While visiting San Francisco, I visited two schools: the University of San Francisco and the California College of Arts. Both lovely schools on different merits.
I started with the University of San Francisco. Located in the hub of the city in which one can take the Muni Bus (their version of MTA buses; they have different transit systems to take you around by different companies, kind of like the old school NYC) or walk to different shopping districts. The campus was utterly gorgeous. There was a great view of the skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the ocean from where I stood on the top of the hill.
A bright sophomore was the tour guide of all three of us: an undergraduate with company and myself, a prospective graduate student. She showed us the gorgeous church which is so popular that if an alumnus wants to wed in said church, this person must book three years in advance. Additionally, students graduate in this church. It’s really a sight to see.
She showed us the library, a freshman dorm room, the fitness facilities, the cafeteria, and told us about all the activities on campus. At the time, they were installing an ice skating rink free for students. It was a very informative tour.
Then I returned to speak to the academic advisor and he was oh so lovely. He told me about the program and how it’s formatted for an adult’s busy lifestyle: classes take place in the evening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Additionally, there is the opportunity to work on their online literary journal Switchback and attend readings in which authors read their works in progress at times. The most salient feature of this visit was the opportunity to peruse their syllabi from past semesters. I absolutely fell in love with the curriculum!! Their program for fiction writers is divided based on Long Fiction and Short Fiction. However, for the final thesis, one has the choice to combine genres. Not many people do it, but one can choose to do so. Their syllabi had classes that ranged from a researching class for a piece and revising your work. I don’t see that in any Gotham classes I’ve taken. Those classes would be really helpful. All in all, if not present in my florid descriptions of the program, I fell in love. The price is…what it is but I’ll worry about that when and if I’m accepted.
I also visited the California College of Arts located in a far section that took me forever to find. Think Williamsburg when there were only warehouses on Bedford Avenue (read: desolate). After forty five minutes, I found two buildings that meld into the other nondescript buildings, and got to the Admissions office. I met one of the Admissions advisors who was our tour guide. I thought this was actually nice and that we would get a more in depth look of the campus.
Because there were only two people at the time in our tour (one woman, whom I later found out lived in Greenpoint and traveled from the east coast just for this tour, joined us later), we stopped in the writing department. This was a pleasant getaway for writers to meet with their mentors, attend readings, work on the literary magazine, Eleven Eleven, and relax with peers or on their own. The outdoors section was inviting with a mini fountain but the inside was like any other rented space.
The rest of the tour was in the building in which most of the classes took place. We walked into textiles, design, wood shop, and other hands on classes in session. It was interesting to see and I saw how the university fostered different artists and their many talents. I enjoyed being plunged into this world for a bit but, I could not imagine myself attending the university. I’m a writer and yes, while it’s great to be looking for inspirations in the most unlikely places, but with no real campus except for the city, I was not interested.
I left the campus, happy that I visited, and sad that I would not be applying. It’s a shame because upon reading the description online, I was looking forward to possibly attending the university. Knowing the campus and visiting the program always provides you with a better feel of the university.
For graduate school, most don’t really suggest visiting until one is accepted but I went ahead and did it anyway. I’m glad I did. Saved me on application fees!