After graduating from University of Aberdeen in 2003, Jane's career aim was to be a theatre director. She viewed the Master of Fine Arts degree as a large step to becoming a full-time theatre director and found a course in Theatre Directing at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, USA.
I graduated with an MA in English literature from the University of Aberdeen in 2003. My career aim was to be a theatre director and over the three years and six productions since my undergraduate degree it had become increasingly evident to me that, in order to progress as a director, my ambition and experience must be flanked by the discipline and theatrical lexis that only formal training could provide. Directing and producing independently both liberated and frustrated me; the directorial freedom it granted was hampered by my own relatively limited theatrical vocabulary. I viewed the Master of Fine Arts degree as a large step to becoming a full-time theatre director so I looked into courses and opted for Theatre Directing at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, USA.
I applied for several sources of funding, finding many opportunities through a simple Google search. There are many search sites devoted to funding - these are predominantly American so apply a filter to display only those available to international applicants. Your search will generate a daunting number of funding sources and although the majority of these will be inapplicable it is certainly worth taking the time to wade through them.
Fulbright provides an excellent website that lists sources of funding for study in the USA. They also have a library on-site where sources not listed on the web can be found. You may also find some opportunities at your undergraduate institution; these might be specific to your program or your university so it's well worth looking into.
The earlier you begin looking, the better. Funding is easier to secure if you are looking for 'top-ups,' not the whole sum. Don't despair if you fall short; your proposed college is approachable and often able to help either through additional gift-aid or pointing you towards other funding you may apply for.
It’s also important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Funding is exceedingly competitive and the more you apply for, the better. Moreover, once you have completed a few thoughtful applications, they become a great deal easier. The application process is also invaluable preparation for your interviews; the questions (and their finite word-counts) will force you to articulate your goals, define your expectations and, in general, prepare you for questions at interview.
BUNAC required an application filled out by hand. They were very interested in how I would benefit from studying for a post-graduate degree abroad, what cultural differences I anticipated and how I might respond to these. Following my application, in early May I received an email stating that I had been short-listed to twelve applicants but that a maximum of nine would be interviewed. They asked for any further information that might strengthen my application suggesting this might include a letter of admission to my proposed college, details of other scholarships, cost breakdowns and any amendments to the amount being requested from BUNAC.
I was selected to come for an interview which was fairly informal. They asked me questions about the course, what I expected, what I would do afterwards; they also wanted me to assure them Sarah Lawrence College, though often labelled 'progressive,' bore little resemblance to the movie, 'Fame'. In mid-June I was told I had been awarded a scholarship of $10,000 (the amount I had asked for).
Sarah Lawrence College is, by American standards, tiny. It is a small liberal arts college 20 minutes north of New York City. The campus is small and close-knit. It is unlike other institutions in that courses are not graded.
Studying in America has been nothing short of spectacular. The teaching methods are wildly different but, as I anticipated in my application to BUNAC, I have thrived upon them.
I feel that the key to getting the most from my experience at an American college has simply been to get involved. It sounds mawkish but committing to the university, its studies and its extra-curricular life is a sure-fire way of attaining the American college experience and all it has to offer.
Following graduation my visa allows for optional practical training (OPT); I can stay and work in the USA for one calendar year in a job related to my post-graduate studies. I shall most probably remain in New York for the year, working in the industry, networking and directing theatre.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.