It was the incomparable Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy who said it best: "graduate students are the worst." But perhaps that statement should come with a caveat: James Franco talking about graduate school is the worst. (Or maybe he's just the worst graduate student.) Because while many academic hopefuls pass through the hallowed halls of PhD and Masters programs, few really, truly look at the advantages and disadvantages of such advanced study. But fear not, kiddos. The perpetual student of all of the things and master of the selfie has some really groundbreaking and totally revolutionary thoughts on the pros and cons of graduate school.
In an exclusive for the New York Daily News, Franco's essay (one of several about the merits and detractions of grad schools) details the subtle, nuanced pros and cons of heading down that higher path, dissecting his myriad writing, directing, and art school programs in order to properly convey to all you bohemian artist types with tens of thousands of dollars to spare, just what you should expect.
The essay is, in a word, mind-blowing. Franco really digs into the heart of the matter, breaking down the intrinsic issues deep-seated in the heart of any and every program that people prior to this moment have been too scared to expose. For instance, did you know that writing programs are filled with people who've... paid money to be there? Next you'll be telling me that everyone in MENSA is a genius or something.
[M]ost of the students (if not on scholarship) are paying anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 a year to learn a profession that isn't going to pay off soon, even if they do get a book deal right after school.
"The second thing to consider," Franco continues, busting down doors in his wake like a veritable Kool-Aid Man of education system in the process (oh yeah!), "is that writing is a solitary activity, so you shouldn't expect much collaboration with your peers."
In other news: don't expect it to be sunny on cloudy days.
And not to bring you down, but you grad students should be prepared to do this thing called homework.
After classes, students go home and write stories so they can bring them to class to be workshopped.
No way — really? And all this time I thought they went home, drank excessively while complaining about their elusive muse.
Filmmaking grad school, on the other hand, is a far more collabtorative environment because, get this, it takes more than one person to make a film. SAY WHAT?
Film programs, on the other hand, are collaborative: All students work on each other's films. ... This makes each person invested in his or her classmates’ work, unlike in writing programs, where the writer stands alone.
I also heard sometimes you'll have to interact with AC-TORS: James, is that true?
Other choice bits of advice include knowing that writing students "are weird," the professors in those programs are (get this) actual, professional writers which is SO CRAZY RIGHT?, and that art school is a lot like film school, only — spoiler alert — way "more subjective" because opinions on art are subjective! It's as if someone had wool over my eyes and now I can finally see. Some real game-changing stuff.
In the world of PhD vs. Masters' programs, Franco is pro-PhD all the way because the students are happier because "they know that they're superstars in their subject because they have been chosen over many others and are being supported by the school" and also their programs are usually funded (read: free or you get paid to go), which is so bizarre because you'd think not being in debt would be a total anxiety-bomb!
Now, with a advisory toolkit as impressive as this, one may think they needn't any more advice when it comes to graduate school or life in general, but we have a few (we simply can't help ourselves). So grab a pencil and jot this down: Sometimes the snow comes down in June. Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon.
Oh, and always wear sunscreen.