Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The High Cost of Higher Education-Reflections

The inspiration behind the creation of my autobiographical media piece, The High Cost of Higher Education, came as a result of the inherent difficulties one faces when attempting to work and pursue a university degree, simultaneously. Pursuing a university degree is a full time endeavor; factoring in work, home, family, and self means that many compromises are made, some aspects are ignored, and complications seem “normal.” Currently attempting to balance all of the aspects just mentioned made me think of choices that must be made short term for long term goals to be realized. And choices represent the heart of the autobiographical piece. The choice made to earn a Master of Arts degree represented a huge personal and financial cost, nevertheless, the financial return and the emotional benefits were well worth the consequences of my decision.

At inception, my target audience included colleagues of the Media Psychology program at Fielding Graduate University and family members. Maybe, the piece would be shown to a few close friends. However, some current students asked to see the piece as did colleagues from Cal State Fullerton where I teach. Motivating an audience was never my intention; however, in sharing the piece with others, especially women, viewers have said that the story related to them in many ways hand helped them with current decisions they face. The overall reaction the separate audience members demonstrated was quite surprising; a few cried as they were “touched”, and all were overwhelming supportive of the piece, and asked to view it again. My surprise originated from the aspect that a creation so deeply personal could emotionally impact others, in a positive manner. Knowing the power of the media and teaching its concepts based on other’s work offers a completely different perspective when you create the work and then view the reaction. What a thrill it is to see others care about your story and how your story connects to their own. Creating connections is the power of all stories.

The High Cost of Higher Education media piece is my first individual attempt at digital storytelling. At a new student orientation, Dr. Ohler assigned students to create a “mini-autobiographical” piece. Since the time allowed was short, several others were present to help us with our creations. Creating a piece on my own meant that I needed to use tools for which I would have technical support as needed. Since the university where I teach supports final cut pro, and my nephew who lives with me also knows the program, the choice to use the final cut pro software seemed most logical. The software was quite user friendly; thus, editing and adding additional elements were not difficult. Overall, I am pleased with the feedback received on the project and consider my first attempt a success.

The High Cost of Higher Education

My first autobiographical media piece is complete and posted on youtube. You can view it at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT2LJR13Wkw . The digital story created tells of a decision I was forced to make, one I would not have made on my own. As with all important decisions, consequences subsequently follow. The story is titled, The High Cost of Higher Education, and is meant to explain both the financial costs of pursuing a university degree, but the emotional expenses incurred as well. The decision to obtain a graduate degree came at a high personal cost as well, which represents the heart of "herstory", my story. Although the choice was made to continue with my graduate studies, and even though marriage was sacrificed, it was not until the completion of the piece did the realization occur that emotional scars remained. Thus, the decisions of the past certainly impact the decisions made daily, and the ones made in the future. Telling my story helped erase the scars of a past decision; a decision which enriched my life in so many ways, and allowed me to chart my present life journey.