When I was a kid, college was what happened after high school. The only question about college was where you wanted to go and what you wanted to study. When I hit high school, I was stunned by friends who told me they didn't know what they wanted to do after graduation. How could you not know? I grew up believing you didn't get the cool, fun jobs without the proper education, and in my house, only school relayed that knowledge.
As an adult, I can say that there are plenty of jobs that are probably a ton of fun (barrista, anyone?), and they don't require much or any formal education. Even so, systems change, trends change, businesses evolve or die, and that means more training. I can't even think of a job that doesn't require some type of continuing education even for long-time employees.
As professional writers, it's our job to stay up on the market. After we've managed to acquire an agent, and after an editor has fallen in deep lurve with our books, we still have to know what will sell. The human population is in constant flux. What's cool this year will be so ten years ago in just five years. If we want to keep readers interested in what we're writing, we have to entice them with the ideas, characters, plots, themes, styles, and subjects that appeal to them. Sure, we should write something we want to read first, but if we're only writing for ourselves, we're not likely to be successful professionals.
Beyond the craft of writing, we also need to stay up on effective marketing, new technology, literary trends, trends in other genres, etc. The world continues to evolve around us, and we have to remember that or else suffer the consequences. So where can we go to get the education we need? What are the best places to learn the various locks in hapkido? How do we get insight into the life of a midwife? Who provides the best craft lessons in creative writing? Where can we go to learn about developing, maintaining, and growing an audience?
Since my personal thang is higher education, I'm going to list the programs I considered in my college search.
Writing Popular Fiction MA from Seton Hill University
StoneCoast MFA from the University of Maine
University of New Orleans MFA
Warren Wilson MFA
San Diego State University MFA
Of this list, only SDSU is a full-residency program. The others require just a few weeks on campus each year. (SDSU is local to me.)
Now it's your turn. Where do you go to learn about writing, whether it's your RWA chapter's online workshops, conferences, community college classes, websites, etc? Or do you have a different opinion about the value of education for writers?