Sunday, November 4, 2012

Edinburgh, here I come?

Photo by David Monniaux
Ah, Edinburgh. I have never been there. It's funny, really, that I was in Scotland for the first and only time in the spring of 2011 with my family, and I saw neither Glasgow nor Edinburgh, the two places that I am considering for school in less than 10 months.

I just need to pause for a moment while I consider this whole 10-month time span, because we're talking, like, 10 months until classes begin. That means quite a bit shorter than that, really, before I'll have to be ready to go, or in fact, be there, wherever 'there' is.

I've been accepted unconditionally (grad application lingo for "you don't need to submit anymore supporting documents in support of your application") to the Edinburgh College of Art, which became officially a part of the University of Edinburgh in 2011. As I understand, the college historically was like many fine arts schools in the respect that it didn't offer any sort of art historical training, but now, merged with the University, it does, and still maintains its official name of the Edinburgh College of Art. Not to mention it's practically next to that lovely, and very famous, Edinburgh Castle (pictured above).

I haven't chosen which school to attend yet because it's difficult. That's just the bones of the decision process right there: it's hard. There are a lot of factors to consider, and not the least of them, money. Money, money, money. It's huge. I hate it. And I love it. It's good to get it, it can be fun to spend it, sometimes not as fun to spend it, and it makes your gut tie up in knots when you want to invest it. And I say "invest," but what it really feels like when it comes to education is "gamble."

After a few years out of the academic scene, I've come to terms with student loans (mine are about average, perhaps a bit below, but no less substantial and a pain in my rear). I've also come to respect that education is an investment. The turnaround is that you can advance your knowledge and understanding, and if you do it right, can advance your career. And in my case, in terms of a career in art history, advanced education is pretty much a necessity. One might argue that a bare-bones resume for a career as say, an assistant curator at a museum, would include a Masters degree, but a PhD is often preferable. And since I've been out of university for a few years and am now absolutely, positively sure that I want to be an art historian, the decision making falls to where, and how, and how much.

I've mentioned previously that I've plenty of scholarship applications to write -- and now I've got a few more. Edinburgh is arguably more prestigious, and with that comes a jacked-up price tag. Of course it would. In the end, will employers look at my school history and think, Oh, Edinburgh? Or, Really, Glasgow? Well, yes. They will. Grades are important, sure, but the quality of the work and institution speak volumes. I've learned that about UW-Madison. People know the school when they hear it. That means something. And then when they see you got A's there -- well, that's really something.

So anyway. I'm off track. The next few months will mean a lot of work, but I'm prepared to do what I can in order to make an informed decision that will benefit my future -- and future studies, if it comes to that (because let's face it, I want and will probably someday get a PhD). Glasgow and Edinburgh, I hear, are vastly different types of towns. I would love either and both. So now... time and potential (!!!!??? Do you hear me, universities, pleaseeee!!) scholarship money will tell.

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