Table of Contents » Chapter 2 : Post Graduation » Chapter 2: Post Bac / Special Student Programs » Chapter 2 : “Post Bac” > Personal Experiences

Chapter 2 : “Post Bac” > Personal Experiences

Courtney Murphy

“After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, I moved to New York and took a Ceramics class at a local Ceramics center. There was a sign on the bulletin board about a young production potter looking for an assistant; she couldn’t pay anything, but in exchange for work I could have access to the studio.

I began working for her, and asking her a lot of questions about how she got started. Eventually, she moved away I continued to work for potters around the city. After a few years of this, I realized that I wanted a more comprehensive education in clay. I applied and was accepted as a post-bac at Oregon College of Art & Craft in Portland.

I had a really wonderful experience, I learned a lot of technical information, as well as exposure to contemporary artists. I spent two years as a post-bac because the school was very small and you needed two years to be able to take all of the classes in ceramics.

Although I had learned the basics of clay from working for potters, at OCAC I learned in a more comprehensive way. I learned how to look at work and talk about work, things that at first were initially difficult for me coming from a non-art background in college. Being exposed to such a variety of work also helped me figure out what I was trying to say and what I wanted to be making.

I also feel that the experience of living in a new community, and being surrounded by different artists really does a lot to open up your ideas. I have moved many times since school for different residencies and even if it takes a while to happen, there is always some shift in my work as a result.”


Rob Geibel

“A post baccalaureate program is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to further develop their portfolio prior to graduate school while gaining some “real life,” experience. Is it possible to juggle a job and a social life while maintaining a productive studio practice? This is a great test before the pressures of graduate school. There are a few things I considered when looking at schools. Most importantly, look at the cost and requirements. Tuition and fees can add up quickly. I recommend researching the amount of studio and art history credits the institution requires. Also, is this somewhere you are considering for graduate school? Personally, I chose a program with faculty I respected both artistically and professionally, knowing I would get the feedback and support needed to help me get to the next phase. Ultimately, each school approaches a post baccalaureate program differently, just make sure it is the right fit for you.”

Chandra DeBuse

“I completed a year of “special student status” at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I came to clay outside of academia and pursued it as a hobby for a number of years before seeking growth within an academic setting. I was already living in Nebraska, so I was able to pay in-state tuition for the 3-credit required course. This eased the financial hardships that many non-degree students face.

As a special student at UN-L, I was granted 24-hour access to the studio and facilities. I received a 10’x10′ non-private space and a rolling ware cart within the advanced undergraduate ceramics studio. I was part of a network of support and critical feedback within an academic setting (including that of graduate students, undergraduate students and professors). I took elective graduate-level art history and kiln building courses which ended up transferring to my graduate program. While I was at UN-L, I prepared a portfolio to apply to graduate schools. The experience as a special student eased my transition back into academia and gave me experiential knowledge to prepare me for a MFA program.”

Matt Causey

“I did a post-bac at Oregon College of Art and Craft. I went there because I wanted to learn how to soda fire and letter press. I had been applying to graduate schools for years and wasn’t getting in, so this was my alternate option. I learned a loads of technical ceramics stuff, firing kilns, glaze calculation, mold making. One thing about a post-bac, or graduate school, its important thing to consider, is where would you like to live, and how much school cost. My experience at OCAC was key to my success on account of networking and my tremendous “bag of ceramic tricks”.

Matthew McGovern

“I did post-bac work, we liked the term “Special Student,” at UNL. It was a great year and if I were younger and not hell bent on going to Grad school I would have traveled the country doing it everywhere I could. I think its one of the better ways to get a ceramic education and to develop your work. One must be humble enough to work with the undergrads and also able to interact with the Grads. I was also able to sit in on/ audit many classes and critiques that were extremely useful and informative. I had 24/7 access to the studio and all of the kilns. The other great part is that I was able to work and talk with the Professors and Graduate students and glean what and MFA program is all about before applying. It is also a good way to add a third year to my Graduate education if one is looking or interested in a program that is a two years only. Now this is the only hitch in being a special student, if one is really interested in going/applying to a particular program make sure, before you commit to being a special there, that they accept their special students as graduate students.”