Re-engineering a Bachelor of Arts For the Arts

When I began to think about a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, I knew that I wanted to take a break from academic writing and non-fiction. But would it really be a break? I had heard of students who studied theater, who became “professional actors” but found themselves without a paycheck while doing so. What kind of writer/actor/singer would I become if I gave up my creative writing to be a breadwinner for my family?

Rethinking a Bachelor of Arts for the 21stCentury precariat


I began to explore what a Creative Writing Master’s program might offer me. In the past I had focused my studies on creative writing and short story set design. I loved the many creative writing seminars I had attended as a student but always felt that I would have to make time for school. I also didn’t know whether I wanted to devote eight hours per week for my degree, or if I wanted to stretch out six.


Since I am a mother of three, I have limited time to invest in my education. I’m only able to dedicate two hours per night to class; that’s just not enough! How could I balance a degree with the amount of time I have to devote to caring for my family? I wasn’t sure I could, so I started to look around for other ways to improve my financial situation.


Looking at my family situation and weighing in on how much time I wanted to spend with my kids, I realized I needed a creative answer. So, when I re-thinking a Bachelor of Arts for the 21st century degree, I decided I wanted a different focus. I wanted something I could do part-time, while spending quality time with my children. I still wanted to be an artist, so I did some research. I read that online creative writing degrees were available through community colleges and technical schools.


What I found was a mixed bag. There were several arts degrees I would have considered, but I wasn’t sure which one would mesh well with my life. Plus, there was a big price tag hanging over my head. My original plan was to earn an Associate in Fine Arts, then a Bachelor of Arts. I figured I would need the financial aid that the Bachelor of Arts would offer, plus a more focused concentration on my career goals, so I picked a Bachelor of Arts. That degree is now my pride and joy.


The key to my success was re-thinking a bachelor of arts degrees. I had accepted a job as a graphic designer at a technology firm, and they offered me an internal position that I didn’t feel I needed. It gave me the time to really think about what I wanted to do with my career. I looked into graphic design courses at a local community college, but that was all I really wanted. In my mind I just wanted to work at a great company, and that fit nicely into my life. So I did not even bother pursuing those other two degrees.


The lesson learned here is that a degree or certificate program may be right for you, but you need to re-evaluate it. There are many career options out there. If you are not 100% convinced it’s what you want, then take the next step and look into art school programs at technical colleges, community colleges, four-year schools, and smaller private colleges. You may discover that you have an itch to become an artist, but you’re not quite sure where to start.


You can be an amazing artist, but you might not want to go to the trouble of re-engineering a bachelor of arts degrees into an Associate’s of Arts degree. It takes time and effort and you might find it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. But if you love to paint, study art, and are good with your hands, maybe this avenue is for you.

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