BFA stands for Bachelor of Fine Arts, a four-year college degree in the fine arts (fields like music, art, dance, creative writing, and the like). Fine-arts programs focus on performance, not analysis; thus, the BFA often requires the creation of a piece of music or literature or dance. After completing the degree, some students may go on to pursue an MFA.

Unfortunately, the job prospects for BFA graduates are dim. A student's success depends largely on his or her innate talents, not the quality of the school, and there are few positions available for even the best students. Yes, the creme de la creme go on to Broadway or Hollywood or television, but the "merely" good, who also dreamed of far-reaching careers, may end up singing in commercials, writing blurbs, or conducting dance therapy for nursing-home residents. Many students turn to teaching; some find it agonizing and depressing, while others reap its rewards. I personally found that some of the most creative and enlightening teachers I've ever had were former BFA students, and it's chilling: these people--whose talents surpassed mine by several orders of magnitude and whose casual, offhand performances reached levels to which I could never rationally aspire--were those who allegedly "hadn't made it" in the real world. (I thought they were doing fine. So did they.)

With these exceptions, most of the BFAs I know seem to float from one depressing and mind-numbing minimum-wage job to another; one works at Blockbuster Video, for example, while another now bags groceries. BFA programs seem to provide their students with few salable skills--an unlucky, unmotivated, or untalented graduate with a science degree might use his knowledge at a dull but reasonably lucrative lab-tech job, but a student with dance skills has no such option.

It might sound coldhearted to talk about the salability of one's degree, but as an undergrad friend of mine said, you do have to eat when you leave here. She's double-majoring in creative writing and computer science. The first major lets her pursue her dreams; the second major lets her eat while she's doing it.

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