One of the common refrains I hear from my interns is that their college was a waste, and that real-world experiences far better prepare them for the world of freelance photography. I can see their point, and understand that, to a degree, it may be true. But that degree is still worth a great deal.
Graduating from college is critical. So many people I know say that getting your degree is the ultimate test in being able to demonstrate you can finish something you started. I agree with that sentiment.
But do students — or teachers, for that matter — need more than a bachelor’s degree?
Recently, there was a discussion on a photo association listserv about the qualifications for a teaching position:
Faculty members must have teaching experience at the college level and are required to maintain active participation in their field of photography.
Active participation? I can’t say I know a lot of professors who would fit that bill. A few, but not a lot.
The perfect candidate for this job is someone who has an MFA in photography, plus commercial and teaching experience.
Here’s where I, along with others on the listserv, had a problem. This school requires a master’s degree? Surely this applies in fields like English, the sciences, and so forth, but the arts? Maybe for art history — but for the field of photography, I just don’t see it.
Ready for the Real World?
In the schools of today, the inbreeding, tenure debates, and self-congratulation that go along with being an academic are part of the problem for photographers who enter the real world with a diploma, $100k or so in student loans, and no way to pay that debt off. Few schools are preparing their students with the tools they need to succeed in business, especially given the fact that freelancers are the new staff photographers.
I have a few colleagues — professors at places like RIT and Brooks — who have said that my book, Best Business Practices for Photographers, is on their required reading list. I am not saying my book is the end-all, be-all answer — but it’s at least an indicator that the professor understands that his or her students will soon be out of school and looking for work.
[tags]photography education, photography advice[/tags]