Semester Close…

grading mysteriesMy first semester of art classes are done. Sort of.

Classes ended last week, and finals began. Neither of my classes had finals, though, since they aren’t those types of classes. However, we did have critiques of our work and other fun ways to close the semester out.

There’s only one problem.

I have no idea how I did, from a grading perspective.

This entire semester, I received no grades. None.

I’m kind of used to not getting grades throughout a semester. During my MFA, it was pass/fail, and you either submitted your work or didn’t. If you did it, and you did it right, then you passed. But there were monthly deadlines, and your work was critiqued and returned, so you knew if you had to redo anything or not. In my drawing and design classes, I didn’t get that. I got some critique, but there was no chance to re-do, no offer to re-do, no grade or even idea if I’d gotten it right.

I’m stressed.

Seriously stressed.

Because while the classes ended last week, my final grades still haven’t posted.

The college closes on the 18th, so I know I’ll have my grades before then. But that means up to two more days of waiting…waiting…waiting.

But, hey, at least I’ll only have to go through this another four semesters or so…

How to define the worst college

Image by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitialPhotos-net

Image by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitialPhotos-net

There have been a few articles out lately about the worst colleges out there.

“These schools’ shortcomings, according to Washington Monthly, are not so much in the quality of the education per se but rather in its utility: How likely are students to graduate? What does a degree from there cost? What’s the level of student debt? What’s the default rate on student loans?

“Many of these colleges are dropout factories, where students are unlikely to graduate, and prices, debt levels, and student loan default rates are high,” author Ben Miller said in the magazine’s September/October issue, which ranked poor-performing colleges.”

They used cost, graduation, student debt, and default rates on student loans. And this is the problem with the entire question of what college is ‘worst.’

Those are all tied together, and they all tend to go into the same issue: people who want to be students, who want to go to college, but are limited due to economic hardship.

Let’s just be honest about it and skip the whole beating around the bush thing:  poor people have less options of where to go to school.

They often have to work more hours at their jobs. They often have children. They often start school later (having had to work first and not simply transition from high school into college).

So these poor Americans try to live out the broken American Dream by going and getting a college degree.

But the work is harder than they expect, and it takes longer than they expect, and they wind up in schools that cost more because those schools are more flexible; they have instructors who are told to keep up with their students.

When I worked at a for-profit college, I called my students at least once a week if there was any problem (non-attendance, work issues, etc.).

The students had best intentions, but often the stories I heard were that they lost their job, a family member was sick, their car had broken down and couldn’t be repaired for the money they had, they had lost their apartment or house…all things that people with more money and time wouldn’t have had to deal with. Or that they would have been able to deal with more easily.

The connection between the issues is what leads to the ‘worst’ college rankings: students start at expensive schools because they need to be there, whether it’s for the individualized attention they get or because they need the flexibility. The students run into problems because of the cost and the high student loans they must take out. They often drop out because of the money problems. Once they’ve dropped out, there’s no way they can pay the student loans, and so they default on them. It’s not that these things should be considered the ‘utility’ of the college. It’s the students. It’s their situations.

Instead of talking about the evils of these “dropout factories,” why don’t we look at how to make affordable colleges? Why don’t we look at how to get colleges to be more accessible and flexible? Why don’t we look at the underlying problem: the fact that high schools (especially in low-income areas) also have high drop-out rates and turn out students who aren’t ready for college?

Of course, the answer is that it’s easier. For those with the money and the privilege, it’s all about the colleges that try to work with these students, and grading the schools themselves.

We need to stop talking about the bad and start looking at how to make things good. What can we do to help these students instead of judging them and the schools they attend?

The Art Degree, Part II – Disillusionment

It’s begun.

I’ve been disillusioned with my art degree.

Why?

Because I totally suck at it.

Okay, maybe that’s not a fair assessment. I didn’t originally think I sucked at it. I didn’t go into the program convinced that I sucked at it.

Then I thought that I was learning.

And, to be fair, I am still learning.

I’m still drawing every day.

I’m still seeing improvements.

But the second projects are harder than the first ones, and I feel like I’m not keeping up.

My portraits are…uhhh…well, they sort of look like people. Mostly.

And my design class…we had to draw in it, followed by making a 3-d design from an abstraction we made from the drawing. My final piece, the drawing of the 3-d design, reminds me a lot of a truly abstract Tank Girl. (That part is cool, I admit.)

So I’ve gone ahead and included some of my current work, and we’ll see how it goes.

I haven’t given up, and I don’t plan on giving up. But it’s definitely getting to be more of a challenge than I had originally planned on.

Charcoal "Portrait"

Charcoal “Portrait”

Abstract Design Drawing

Abstract Design Drawing

Second Abstract Drawing from Design Class

Second Abstract Drawing from Design Class

3d Design (Cardboard and Tape) Made from Second Abstract Drawing

3d Design (Cardboard and Tape) Made from Second Abstract Drawing

Weeks 4 and 5: Wow, time is going fast!

Spider!

Spider!

So before I knew it, two weeks had passed, and my poor little blog had been ignored.

I knew that couldn’t last.

The important thing is that I tricked my husband.

Let me explain. No, wait, that would take too long. Let me sum up.

I want to be an artist. I’m not very art-y, but I’m trying hard, and I think that I’ve been getting progressively better. I practice every day, and I’ve seen it in my jewelry, my book art, my drawing, and even in my ideas. Plus, I have an idea of shading! And I know to plan my work before I do it! It’s really been great. But you know what was even better?

I was looking for examples of my work from my classes in my phone (because I take pictures of it), and my husband looked over and asked, “Why do you have a picture of a spider in your phone?!?”

Because, for those who know me are aware, I’m terrified of spiders. My having a picture of a spider in my phone would just never, never, never, ever happen.

The thing is – that picture wasn’t of a spider. It was of a spider that I drew and then cut out of black construction paper for my first design project!

Okay, so it isn’t perfect. And you may look at it and not think that it’s brilliant. But it’s an amazing sign to me. It shows me that I can learn this, that I can do that – that I can art!

That all said – now I need your help to keep arting…

Indigogo is almost over!

It ends on October 6! You have just about two days to give me money! What’s taking you so long?
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-get-an-art-degree/x/8598716

If you prefer to get more for your money and don’t just want to be a sweet, wonderful, caring individual, you can also go ahead and check out my awesome Etsy shop!

Buy something!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/thegoddessofgeekdom

One week in!

"Blind" contour drawing of my hand from day one...

“Blind” contour drawing of my hand from day one…

Being on the student side of the desk was about as weird as I thought it would be.

This, my first semester of my AA of Art degree. I’m in two classes that each meet twice a week for three hours at a go. The last time I sat in a classroom like that was in 2005. So, yeah, this is definitely a little bit different.

Really, just about everything is different.

First off, I actually have more degrees than my teachers (mine are in English, though). And I have more teaching experience than one of them. The one who has more teaching experience than me has most of it at the 4th grade level, though, which really comes through in her classroom management style.

Second, the students are so annoying! Seriously! I love the fact that they all say, “I’m not straight out of high school. I graduated in 2013.” Wow, a whole year?! Your level of maturity must be off the scale. That must be why you have absolutely no idea of what TMI means, and you announce that you’ve had an ant bite on your nipple to the whole class. Thanks; we needed to know that.

Third, the total apathy is there. I really thought positively about college students. Okay, maybe not that positively, but before, when I judged the students, it was as a teacher. Now, as a peer, I have to say how insanely sad and disappointed I was to hear fellow students complain about being forced to take a government class because they don’t care about the government. I want to shout at them – “You should care! Maybe someday you will care, and you’ll regret it then!” (Ooooh, my aching old fogey head!) And the lack of supplies with students saying that they don’t have the money. Yeah, I get that we’re all poor college students, but shouldn’t you at least buy the least minimum to get through it? Sigh.

Fourth, yeah, I’m so judging my teachers, too. Not having a copy of the syllabus, saying your students can get it online, but then admitting you don’t know where it is online…telling us you’ll always let us out about an hour early (for a three hour class) because you want time to eat in between classes you’re teaching…not good things. So easy for me to lose respect for you as a teacher.

Finally, the big positive:

I’ve learned stuff!

From my design class, I’ve learned a lot of vocab and worked towards my first project, realizing that planning really is an important part of it. That makes a difference since I just picked up some canvases this weekend that I want to do…something…to. I’m not just jumping in. I’m thinking about it, and I’ll mock some up before I actually do it.

From my drawing class, I learned about lines. Which, to me, sounds way basic. But I’ve found it helpful to pay attention to when lines curve, go diagonal, or are straight.

I was working on a cross-stitch pattern, and when I examined the images and text, I used the principles I learned in my design class to make the letters look good (or, at least, I think they look good), and I used the knowledge about lines from my drawing class to figure out how to recreate images on canvas. I noticed lines that, once, I would have called curved, but there were actually some straight lines in there! Who knew you could learn things in school?!?