Q: What do you think about grad school? I'm taking some online classes through UCLA Extension, do you think this is worth it? I want to work in TV Development/Producing, start out at an agency or production company. But my logic with grad school is at least if I never get a job, I can teach with an MA. What do you think?
Ahhhh so many questions! :) I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one path that will lead you to be a successful writer, or a successful anything in Hollywood. Some people go to grad school. some don't. Some people work as assistants. Some don't. Some have important relatives. Some don't. You have to do what makes sense for you, and try to position yourself in the best way possible so that you can achieve what you want. At this stage, focus on learning as much as you can about the industry and your craft.
UCLA Extension - I've never done it, so I can't really speak to whether it's worth it (feel free to comment if you can). I've heard mixed things. It really depends on your professor, and your classmates. I don't feel like I need it, because A)I have a small writers group, B) I majored in scriptwriting in college so I've already had those kinds of classes, and C) I don't need a deadline; I'm motivated to write by my poverty and my lack of wanting to be an assistant for the rest of my life. But if the classes help you with motivation, or notes, or whatever - go for it. (And actually, if you've never taken a screenwriting class, I'm inclined to tell you to do it.) But is it 100% necessary? Nah. I'm also a little wary of online classes - so it's just notes via email? I feel like an in-person discussion would be so much more useful. Also...I think you know this, but in case others don't - UCLA Extension is not grad school. You're not working toward a degree or anything. Then again, a screenwriting degree doesn't really qualify you to do anything except say you have a screenwriting degree. I would know.
Sidenote - Since you're interested in development/producing, writing isn't mandatory. Still, I think writing and learning about writing is going to be really valuable for you. I wish every exec and producer had to do it. Lots of screenwriting majors go on to be development execs or producers.
Grad school - if you have a spare $100,000, sure, go to grad school (and now I'm talking about the actual degree kind from UCLA, USC, NYU, whatever). Sometimes I think I would have more fun being an English teacher than being an assistant. But how will you transition to being a writer or exec/producer in Hollywood? For writers, how will you get your scripts inside to the right people? I'm not saying you can't, but it's something to think about. Also, I'm wary of your "what if I never find a job" attitude. It's a valid fear, and it is REALLY tough to find a job in Hollywood right now (more on that later), but it's never been easy. If you want to work in Hollywood, you have to be determined - and refuse to accept defeat. I honestly think that if you want something badly enough, you make it happen. This is why I haven't eaten a carbohydrate in eleven days. I think it's a good mantra - but then again, my blood sugar could be dangerously low.
The other thing I think you should think about is that two years of grad school makes you two years older. It takes several years to work your way up and get your stuff read, and all that. If you want to work in development, you have to be an assistant in development. And you may have to work at an agency first, as you already seem to know (yay!). I think you might as well try it now. It only gets harder as you get older. Certainly, people find themselves working as assistants after meandering elsewhere (I am one of the youngest assistants at the agency), but I am happy I came here right after college so I could get started. I refuse to be a 35 year-old assistant.