If you're already passionate about what you want to
do for a living, you might want to consider applying to schools that offer
one-of-a-kind or specialty programs in that field. For example, Medill at
Northwestern University has long been a top choice journalism school for undergraduates
and graduates alike. Another example is UCLA's School of Theater, Film and
Television, which attracts aspiring filmmakers.
You may already
be aware of the top programs in your chosen field. If not, all you need to
do is ask people in that profession where they went to school -- or better
yet, where they wish they had gone to school.
There are unique undergraduate
degree programs, like the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM), and
graduate programs like the famous Actors Studio Drama School Master of Fine
Arts (MFA) program at Pace University. Both of these schools are located in
New York City, allowing students access to real-world experience in their
"LIM is the only college dedicated exclusively to
providing students with an education in the business of fashion, granting
bachelor's degrees in fashion merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing
and management, and associate's degrees in fashion merchandising," says Elizabeth
S. Marcuse, president of LIM.
"Our students have one thing in common
-- a passion for fashion," Marcuse says. "The student who will do best here
understands that fashion is a fast-paced, intense business that requires dedication
and hard work. Students who are not afraid to jump in and take advantage of
the doors that are opened for them will find a personalized, supportive environment
that will help them succeed."
Whatever the field, access to industry
professionals, insiders and real-world experiences is, perhaps, the biggest
benefit to enrolling in one-of-a-kind programs. Unfortunately, it also means
that the competition to get in to specialized programs can be tough.
popularity of Bravo's long-running series, Inside the Actors Studio has no
doubt generated additional interest in the Actors Studio Drama School (MFA
program) at Pace University. However, serious theater students are influenced
more by the reputation of the Actors Studio than by the television show.
the only MFA theater program officially sanctioned by the prestigious Actors
Studio, actors, directors and playwrights from across the globe vie for up
to 60 new spots each year, but the number of students admitted depends on
the quality and potential of applicants.
"The entire curriculum has
been designed and supervised by the leadership of the Actors Studio through
its Curriculum Advisory Committee, including the presidents, Ellen Burstyn,
Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino," says Andreas Manolikakis, chair of the Actors
Studio Drama School (MFA program) at Pace University.
Over the course
of three years, MFA students -- actors, directors and playwrights -- train
side-by-side as actors. They participate in intensive workshops led by award-winning
actors, including Burstyn. And they participate in the Craft Seminars, on
which the Bravo television series is based. Each third-year student is featured
in a major way at some point in the school's professionally-produced and designed
Spring Repertory Season.
LIM, which will enroll approximately 1,300
students this fall, combines academics with experiential learning. In the
undergraduate program, students must complete a core curriculum, including
35 credits of liberal arts coursework.
"Roughly one-quarter of each
of our bachelor's degrees is devoted to core business courses. Half of the
curriculum for our bachelor's degrees in marketing and management are business
courses," Marcuse says.
"All students must complete internships during
three of their four years at LIM," Marcuse says. As freshmen, they work in
retail for five weeks. Sophomores spend five weeks working in either retail
management or a corporate setting. "During the spring of their senior year,
students work full-time in a fashion industry internship related to their
specific career goals."
Specialty programs like these offer students
beneficial -- and often unique -- experiences and networking opportunities.
Plus, the benefits typically continue after graduation.
90 percent of our graduates find jobs in their field within six months of
graduation," Marcuse says.
"After graduation, all students have the
privilege, for one year, of the status of working finalist at the Actors Studio
itself, which means they bypass the usual preliminary audition and are eligible
to attend sessions and take a final audition for studio membership," Manolikakis
"The students who successfully pass their final auditions will
become lifetime members of the Actors Studio. "All directing and playwriting
students are invited, for at least one year, to be part of the Playwrights/Directors
Workshop of the Actors Studio, a unit specially created for the continuation
of the training of our directing and playwriting graduates," Manolikakis says.
Before applying to a one-of-a-kind program, remember that the programs
tend to be very intensive. Manolikakis suggests that anyone interested in
the MFA program carefully study the detailed curriculum posted on the website
As an undergraduate program, LIM combines academics with practical
experience so students emerge with a resume as well as a degree. LIM also
offers summer and Saturday classes for high school students who think they
might be interested in the fashion business.
"These programs provide
you with a feel for what the business of fashion is all about and can help
you decide whether LIM is the right college for you," she says.
are probably undergraduate or graduate programs available somewhere in the
country that are specially tailored to your chosen field. These types of learning
experiences can provide you with opportunities you may not find elsewhere.
Still, the programs can be difficult to get into and require dedication and
hard work for students to thrive. One-of-a-kind programs are purposefully
challenging, so don't apply unless you're fully committed to a career in that