College Degrees: How Worthwhile Are They?
College can be a dilemma for many students, especially those who are interested in artistic or media entertainment careers. First, college is a sizable drain on expenses, and often creates loans that last for years afterward. Second, college takes a lot of time–four years, of course, for a standard degree, but at least two years to complete most programs. On the other hand, colleges also provide important training and give you a chance to earn a degree, often a vital component in today's hyper-competitive job market. So is it worth it after all? Will you regret college as your form of higher education? There are other options available, notably apprentice (extern) programs and job training schools. So where does college fall when it really matters?
College excels at giving information. If you are lacking information about your career or the skills you need to succeed in it, college is the best opportunity to pick up this information. This is especially useful if you want to be a director, editor, or writer, but do not know much about the history and past styles that have been used. College is the place to learn the history and theory of your subject.
On one hand, college offers all students simple forms of experience. For media entertainment, most assignments include some type of application where you will need to make your own recording, film, design, or other creation. This does provide experience, but not especially useful experience for working on a job, where time, other people, and industry standards all have their part to play. For more complex forms of experience, colleges direct students to internships or other real world areas.
Portfolio projects are large-scale projects that you include in your portfolio to show potential employers–your best work, the work that will land you a job. Here colleges offer at least the opportunity and time to create a portfolio project. By the time you earn your degree you should have at least several, including a capstone project during your final year. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. Employers are now looking beyond the common class projects and searching for employees who have struck out on their own.
College is a good place to meet peers. If these peers land successful careers, they may be able to help you get a job sometime in the future. For immediate careers, however, internship programs and any other type of program that gets you out into a real business will be better for making contacts in your industry. Professionals in college may be able to help you out, but those actively working in business world are always worth getting to know.