Farewell for now SCAD.

“If you want to be happy set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” ~Andrew Carnegie

This past year has been tough. That’s no surprise. Over the last week I made another incredibly tough decision…but one that I know in my heart is right. I’ve elected to discontinue my studies towards my masters degree at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

If you’ve been following my blog over the last year or know me you know I had been enrolled at SCAD totally online in their elearning program since fall 2007 where I completed my bachelor’s degree and went onto pursue my masters degree immediately afterwards. I was enrolled full-time those three years all while working, raising the kids, and beginning to pursue photography. During this time I also began my photography business as well as becoming more active in a variety of volunteer causes. Add in a miscarriage, several surgeries, another pregnancy, a baby boy who has spina bifida and many more medical moments for us both. After making it a year into the masters program at SCAD I failed the candidacy review and then 3 days later received the diagnosis that certainly has changed my life forever. I elected to withdraw last fall for the first time ever in my life from a college course and took a step away from SCAD with the intent to return once life settled down after having Chance. I had hoped by the summer or fall quarter I’d be enrolled.

This past month I began to take the measures to reenroll. In fact, I went through the courses I needed to earn my degree and checked off the ones I had already taken. I registered for a course. I even attended the candidacy review orientation and took sketchnotes for the hour or so that the advisors discussed the expectations of the upcoming candidacy review I had anticipated going through. I’ve since learned that its not uncommon for students to fail their candidacy review the first time around and I was getting pumped to go through and make the changes needed and move forward to take the remaining courses needed so that this degree was behind me. SCAD is also undergoing changes in their masters program and the more I hear of other student’s experiences I find myself realizing that it might be best for me to take a step back for now because I have so many more important things in my life right now.

The more thought I gave this decision the more I realized all that I had ahead in the coming year and at this point in my life I am beginning to learn that the quote, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything” is quite true. This decision wasn’t something that came easy for me. I’ve given it much thought and at times have found myself quite heartbroken because I hate to quit or fail anything. I don’t like to “give up”. Rather than thinking of it that way, I’d prefer to look forward optimistically. I’ve discussed this with very few people over the last week or so and thankfully everyone I’ve spoken to has agreed that this decision makes sense given where I’m at in my life and given just how many personal things that have happened in my life lately, including Chance’s and my recent medical moments. It doesn’t make it any easier for me, but I realize that in addition to my family my career, photography, and volunteer efforts truly need me. As I begin to see the impact I’ve made I was reminded this week by one person, “Many have been called but few are chosen.” Yes, I walk away from SCAD as I certainly feel pulled towards far more meaningful work and causes that I know need me.

Dr. Seuss is quite wise in saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” and I shall move forward with that thought. It’s still tough to accept that I am walking away from SCAD without my masters degree. Perhaps someday I may return but it is far from the top of my priority list. I’ve come to accept that this decision will be for the best for me and for my family. Coming to terms with this decision has reminded me of the article Kristy Pennino & I co-authored back in 2006 for Create Magazine, “The truth about what the creative industry expects from graduates”. It reminded me…

  • A degree alone won’t be the factor that will make me a better designer or educator.
  • A degree alone won’t necessarily make me happier, wealthier, or more successful.
  • A degree alone won’t prove my abilities.
  • A degree alone won’t make me more passionate, enthusiastic, eager or motivated.
  • A degree alone won’t make me more creative.

I won’t say I don’t need to earn a masters degree, however, where I’m at in my life it won’t make my life significantly better or worth the amount of time I’d have to invest to complete the last half of the degree. I look back at the three years I was enrolled at SCAD and now walk away disappointed yet thankful for the experiences. I can’t say that I learned more about design than I had as a student at Valencia but I’m still thankful for the experience that has caused me to think differently and more openly about many things related to design and education.

I walk away from SCAD feeling as though I learned so much more about being an educator than a designer. I thank all my SCAD professors and classmates for nudging me since starting my masters degree. I look back at that year after I had miscarried pushing myself to stay in school full-time and realize it was probably God’s way of trying to nudge me to give it a break…and that He had bigger plans for me. I look at all I’m doing now and I walk away proudly knowing that it’s unfair to me, my family, my colleagues, my students, as well as my SCAD professors and classmates for me to stay at SCAD when right now so many more things in my life deserve my time.

To all my students and the others that have looked up to me, especially those of you considering pursuing studies at SCAD (or any degree for that matter), I want to make sure you know that this decision is not my way of discouraging your education. In fact, I still hope you all strive on to meet your educational goals. The many years I have been in school have certainly helped me and are part of the reason I have made it to where I am in life. A degree might be a factor in the equation but it’s all the other things that make a difference. The one thing I hope you remember is that a degree, no matter where it’s from, will never replace or prove your talent, passion, or enthusiasm. They won’t help an employer realize how motivated or creative you are. Those who have that drive and passion will find what fuels them…and push on to do the good that they were intended to do. And that is precisely what I shall do. In the bigger scheme of life I know years from now I will look back and a masters degree won’t be the defining factor in what I’ve been able to accomplish.

I trust that God is pulling me away from SCAD because there are bigger things ahead planned for me. So as I say “farewell” for now to SCAD and begin to move on to do some awesome things ahead in my life…I’ll share the words of Robert Frost. It seems as though every time life pulls me in a different direction than initially planned this verse of his poem “The Road Not Taken” come rushing back to my mind to remind me that decisions like this will make a difference in my life.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Farewell, SCAD.

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March 12, 2013 - 12:09 pm

Rachel Jolly - I just now stumbled upon your blog. I find you to be so inspiring! I saw that you completed your bachelors completely online, if I am not mistaken. Was that through SCAD’s eLearning? Can you tell me about your eLearning personal experience? I am considering enrolling in it and want to make sure I enjoy the online experience. Thank you. (:

July 22, 2014 - 1:14 am

erica - hi,I stumbled upon your blog and its inforative :)
I saw that you completed your bachelors completely online through SCAD. May i know how long you took to complete the BA?
I am considering elearning too.
Thanks alot

August 24, 2014 - 7:46 am

Amanda Kern - Erica I completed my BA completely online in 2 years – I had transferred after having 3 associates degrees.

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