Author Topic: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree  (Read 4537 times)

mustachepungoeshere

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$78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« on: August 07, 2017, 06:21:34 PM »
Quote
...students receive modest financial aid and leave with a median of $78,000 in debt in exchange for a master of liberal arts degree from the Harvard Extension School.

In contrast, the loan debt average for master of fine arts students at Yale School of Drama tends to be around $14,000...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/theater/harvard-graduate-theater-debt.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

Sibley

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 02:51:23 PM »
I didn't know Yale or Harvard had a theater degree.

sufjork

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 07:48:12 PM »
I didn't know Yale or Harvard had a theater degree.

Yale's grad program is actually quite renowned. I have a BFA in set design (not from Yale) and some of my professors studied at Yale. Plenty of Broadway designers studied there (and, of course, plenty didn't).

Dicey

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 12:45:41 PM »
Isn't Meryl Streep a Yale Drama School graduate?

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 02:41:10 PM »
These kinds of stories have been coming up less frequently lately because Millennials have learned that it's a lie when they are told to "Do what you love and the money will come." The reality is to get a degree in STEM because that's how you make money and you do what you love on nights and weekends. When these stories appear these days, they are usually from older people going back to school or people who lived really sheltered lives that prevented them from picking up currently widely available knowledge and life skills. It's still a shame when it happens, though.

marble_faun

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 11:37:37 PM »
Yikes.

My impression has been that Harvard Extension School functions as a cash cow. The programs cost a lot, don't have much selectivity or prestige, and are kept at a remove from "real Harvard." 

It's pretty sad when students end up getting exploited like this. They think they are advancing in their careers, only to end up chained to debts.  Hopefully with the press these kinds of stories are getting, it will happen less in the future.

FINate

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2017, 01:38:31 PM »
These kinds of stories have been coming up less frequently lately because Millennials have learned that it's a lie when they are told to "Do what you love and the money will come." The reality is to get a degree in STEM because that's how you make money and you do what you love on nights and weekends.

^^This. As an added benefit many less prestigious schools have very high ROI for STEM majors (e.g. http://www.payscale.com/college-roi/major/engineering?page=1), meaning you don't need to get into the most expensive or exclusive schools for a great long term value. If you can live with parents/family while attending one of these lesser known schools you can save a massive amount of money and graduate debt free in a field with high earning potential.

FINate

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2017, 01:48:52 PM »
Of the high student debt, she [the program's art director] said, “I feel the real question here is how artists make a living in America, and this points to the underlying issue of how the arts are valued in America, in a transactional capitalist economy.”

Oh those evil capitalists and their transactions. Of course, her school was more than willing to transact with students for tuition payments. Hmm, I wonder how much the school has offered to refund?

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2017, 09:28:52 AM »
Of the high student debt, she [the program's art director] said, “I feel the real question here is how artists make a living in America, and this points to the underlying issue of how the arts are valued in America, in a transactional capitalist economy.”

Oh those evil capitalists and their transactions. Of course, her school was more than willing to transact with students for tuition payments. Hmm, I wonder how much the school has offered to refund?

Some artists make an extremely good living by creating work that large numbers of people want to look at and own, and by exploiting technology and business systems to allow them to sell to as many of those customers as possible without sacrificing quality. Others make a living by working for an employer or customer, creating and selling pictures or sculptures for money based on a commission. Some make a living by competing for contracts to provide art for public spaces like overpasses or courthouses. In order to do that they have to create large sculptures, paintings, or installations that appeal to enough people to allow them to win the competition for the work. The vast majority make a living by creating advertisements and background material that's part of a larger product or service such as a video game or hotel décor.

Only a very few artists become so popular in their own lifetime that people pay top dollar for their work no matter what they create, so that they can create art solely to express themselves or relieve spiritual or emotional discomfort-- the literary and artistic equivalent of popping zits-- and people will buy it. In this way they're not too different from musicians. To get by, everyone has to generate value for the customer.

The quotation from the art director, taken without context as a stand-alone sound bite, almost suggests that the art director believes the situation should be otherwise, and artists should be able to earn a living without creating work that has enough value for someone to exchange money for it.

FINate

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2017, 09:55:22 AM »
It's difficult to know what, exactly, the directory meant. Maybe she was commenting on the arts not being as highly valued as they should be? Although that would be rather strange in the context of the article since she can directly influence tuition whereas "art should be more highly valued" is very much tilting at windmills.

I was struck by her quote because she was obviously dodging the question and the journalist didn't press her on it. A great follow up question would have been: "If you knew there's an issue with art not being sufficiently valued in America then why was your tuition so out of line with the value of the degrees, and would you consider refunding some tuition?"

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: $78,000 of debt for a Harvard theatre degree
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2017, 07:52:28 PM »
Artists starve. Those who provide services for artists thrive. The average person on Etsy makes something like $40/month. Etsy's owners make millions of dollars per year. The average actor makes less than a restaurant server. Showclix's owners make millions of dollars per year. And so on. And so on.

The math just doesn't add up when it comes to being an artist. The arts are something fun to do with your free time. They aren't a real occupation.