To College, Or Not To College? – Part 2

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Picking up from yesterday

Aurora, if what you really want to do is write/perform, why don’t you throw yourself into that more fully? You could always go back to school for arts. Heck, you’ve already gotten into Berklee.

True, but art is really all I’ve ever studied. And it’s useful. It’s very useful. Don’t let me belittle it, or sound ungrateful. But am I only ever going to know about one thing in my life?

Someone told me if I wanted to have a degree, a Bachelor of Music could still show a lot of great skills – that it would probably represent passion, teamwork, dedication, etc.

But that is already how I spin my high school education! If I actually want more opportunities, can I just keep constantly spinning things? Granted, if I actually want to work in politics someday, that might be a useful skill… :-P

Then there’s the whole idea of, “If what you really want to do is write/perform, you better throw yourself into that 100%. There are no plan Bs in this life.”

I’m actually a huge proponent of that – huge. But, I don’t view wanting a fuller life as a plan B. Look at Jesse Tyler Ferguson who runs his own charity (Tie The Knot) with his husband. Then there’s Rory O’Malley who’s a co-founder of (and very involved with) his charity (Broadway Impact). Al Franken went on to become a senator (after being a performer).

I think you want to perform and/or write and still want more. This isn’t an and/or decision. It’s an and  decision.

I think when it comes to performing arts, there’s a lot that I could keep learning outside of the high costs of higher education places. I’ve taken plenty of classes at UCLA extension, Groundlings, and other places. I learned a lot in all of them, and they all cost less than college classes.

Plus, I could work on improving my piano-playing (and other skills) with books (since I already know the basics), as opposed to paying thousands of dollars to sit in a class just to get credit for it. (When you’re very advanced, some teachers can add a whole lot – or when you’re just learning and know nothing. But when you’re kind of an intermediate level, I think you can do a ton of the improvement yourself.)

I will admit, sometimes I think it’s hard to know what to throw your resources behind. We do only have so much time and money. I would absolutely love to spend the next two or three years just dancing, writing, and singing with a little volunteer work thrown in.

But I don’t really have the resources to do that… unless of course I did it by going to school. I think even if I went to a “real” school (studying things outside of performing arts), I’d have more time available and could spend more time bettering myself as a whole – including the music stuff. But then of course, I’d be burying myself under a mountain of debt.

If only we could have unlimited money, right?

I want it to be so clear that I’m not abandoning performing arts. I write all the time. I will continue to apply to BMI every year until I either get in or die trying. (That’s the real dream right there, the BMI musical theater workshop. But I can’t plan my life around something that’s so unbelievably competitive. I’ll just keep applying with my best work, and drop everything when it happens.)

I know I’ve gone back and forth a ton in these posts. I think that’s ’cause I truly don’t know the answer. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve been so unbelievably stagnant in my plan (or non-plan) to get a college degree. I just can’t decide if it’s actually worth money/time – or what the very best way for me to build a great, fulfilling future for myself is.

And I know you might be able to say, “well, make a pros and cons list as opposed to rambling posts,” but – 1) some stuff depends on the future, which you can’t predict. 2) future aside, I think there are a lot of pros and cons to a choice either way. It’s a layered and complicated issue.

I have decided to take one step, though – which I’ll talk about tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “To College, Or Not To College? – Part 2

  1. Hope

    Aurora – do not go to college for the degree, the prestige, or to get a job. Go to college if you love learning. Go to college if you want to enrich your life and study things that may not be directly related to where you ever thought you’d end up. Go to college to meet people and have new experiences. Go to college to challenge the way you think and discover possibilities about careers you didn’t imagine. Go to college for the sense of pride and achievement. Do NOT go to college with a narrow degree program in mind for a job you don’t even know that you want in 4-5 years. DO go to college to open your mind and broaden your horizons to help you enjoy anything and everything you pursue. DO go to college so you’ll have people pushing you to excellence in ways that you can not push yourself.

    – From a 39-yr-old who had NO MAJOR but THREE MINORS (Business, Art, & Philosophy) who LOVED being a student and is still paying off a student loan with no regrets (but it’s the LAST debt I have and in hindsight I wouldn’t have MAXED out my loans every semester, I would only have taken what I needed!!) I took classes in anything and everything that interested me – environmental design, astronomy, business communications, ceramics, whatever, and I would go back and do it all again! I might still go back!

    P.S. My current employer, who I love, chose me partially based on my curiosity and diverse interests (finally! Someone who appreciated my 3 minors!). My degree program has never held me back, and having a degree has helped me earn professional credibility.

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