Mason Gross follows selective process for school-to-school transfers
Students looking to transfer into the Mason Gross School of the Arts may experience more difficulty graduating on time than students applying to other schools at Rutgers.
Mason Gross serves as the hub for the visual, theater and music departments at Rutgers with roughly 785 undergraduate students participating in different programs of study, ranging from jazz to painting, according to Petersons.
With an acceptance rate of 21 percent, Mason Gross is consistently one of the most selective schools at Rutgers. Embodying less than 1 percent of the population here, it has become a highly sought out field of study, according to the school's website.
It is not more difficult transferring into the second year, said Kara Golden, director of Admissions for Mason Gross. What is difficult is transferring into the second year and starting as a second-year student.
There is an even playing field for students who transfer in, but the difference is that they still have to complete four years of study. This seems to be the deterrent for students as the real difficulty lies in transferring course work without adding additional time, Golden said.
Mason Gross customizes its student's schedules from day one, meaning that any student transferring in is required to make up that work, Golden said. Students in a program that involves ballet practice five days a week, for example, are expected to maintain a level of athleticism that a transfer student would struggle with.
“That’s not to say that someone in a dance program at another conservatory is out of the question. If they have completed a year of study at a different university then they will most likely be accepted as a second-year student. It is the students who are taking liberal arts courses or only dancing twice a week that often lack the rigor we look for,” she said.
The decision process is not solely based on credits and weighs more heavily on how the applicant showcases their skill. A student who auditions at a sophomore level will be offered a spot in the sophomore class, and the same applies to all other majors, Golden said.
There are two different populations here — transfer students within the Rutgers community and transfer students outside of it, Golden said. Often a student inside the community finds it harder to transfer into Mason Gross as opposed to a student that may have had exposure to these rigors elsewhere.
“Many times we have students who want to transfer into Mason Gross and knew it from the beginning but lacked parental support. A lot of parents are scared to let their child pursue their passion of the arts, coupled with the wrong idea that they won’t make a career of it,” she said.
Administrators often see students changing their career paths in order to please their parents, and then later realize that they made a mistake. It divides the student population into those who have support back home and those who do not, Golden said.
In admissions, Golden said they do their best and explain to concerned parents the variety of different options post-graduate students have with an arts degree. More and more corporate companies are looking for creative people that do not have a degree in business.
The school had three recent graduates working for Yelp! and two for IBM who were hired because of their creativity, Golden said.
“Students are taking a risk in some ways but I often tell them that they’re taking more of a risk in not pursuing it. What you risk in not pursuing your passion is a lifetime of unhappiness and that prospect is really far scarier to me than a lifetime of lower earnings,” she said.
Craig Sirota, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore, said before transferring to Mason Gross he was in School of Arts and Sciences. As an avid member of his high school band, he considered music education as a career early on but was discouraged by the low earnings.
“After doing well in Advanced Placement (AP) computer science in high school, I decided that I would follow that path. But after being at Rutgers for a few weeks, I realized that although computer science pays well, I just didn't enjoy it,” he said.
The application process was tedious. He submitted his application, went in for his audition and waited to hear back. After a few weeks passed he said he still had not received an answer and began to worry that he was not accepted. He heard back in June and knew he was admitted into the program.
Even though he is a member of the Class of 2019, he will be graduating in 2020 as result of transferring into Mason Gross, Sirota said.
His family has always been very supportive of following his passion, he said. Many people who try and do what he did face opposition and hesitation from their families so he said he is very lucky to have a support system throughout the whole process.
“Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? If you make it then good for you, but if you don’t then stick with your original major or choose a different one. I am so thankful that I did and am following my passion,” he said.
Ultimately, what one makes is the product of their dedication and skill, said Holly Lathbury, a Mason Gross School of the Arts senior. Putting on a brave front and projecting confidence about their work is possibly the most important thing about being a part of Mason Gross.
“Take the time to think about your artwork," she said. "Take the time to obsess over your artwork. Don't rush anything. Don't procrastinate."
Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.