This Degree isn’t for you

I spent my first 3.5 years
of college taking classes
to be an Art Educator.

Initially, I chose this path because:
A. I liked making art.
B. I liked teaching my little sister things.
C. I saw how my art teachers in high school were: relaxed and made their own art while we worked. Seemed easy, and to be honest I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what i wanted to do and I had to choose before I graduated.

So there I was signed up for college with my major: Art Education.

I went to a branch of my university for two years and took many General Education courses: Educational Psychology, Educational Methods, and more – These were easy. The first two years of my degree education were simple, I got great grades and liked it. Though… Not once in these two years did I ever actually step foot in a classroom or do anything outside of a text book or test.

After those two years passed it was time to go to main campus. I took my very first Art Education course that semester. At this time, the courses were still super easy – the only difference was now I had to observe an Art Ed Classroom. To do so, I just went back to my old high school and sat in on a class with a teacher I had had previously.

The next semester – We taught actual kids. This semester was rough I do not think I ever slept Wednesday-Saturday. With no sleep I had a hard time functioning, but if I slept my grades would suffer… I think many college students know this feeling.

As the semesters passed I became less and less passionate about this major I had chosen. I chose this major because I loved art and the creation of art, but all that I did was write paper after paper, and felt the the creation part was very minimal. I know that this is what is required of educational majors, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

I decided to take a semester off from Art Education to clear my mind. I had a good friend at the time suggest that I try out a VCD  (visual communication design) class or two. Over the years I had found myself being jealous of what the VCD kids got to do. I saw designs and illustrations hanging on the walls of the art building and always wished I could create art like this or have that job – I was already so far in my current major, how could I?

I took my first VCD course and fell in love. All we did was make business cards, a poster, and a magazine spread – that was enough to convince myself that I needed to switch majors.

I knew the direction I wanted to head, but wasn’t sure how to get there. I had forgotten that growing up all I did was mess with digital media, illustration, and code via webpages and layouts for xanga/myspace. I had all the building blocks, but was pretty much considered a dinosaur in the code/web world.

After the semester I decided to do an online school and move home, but before I did I applied for a job at a small business… I ended up getting the job and not moving back home. In the job, I work with Marketing, SEO, blogging, coding, WordPress, graphic design, and branding. I didn’t have a degree for any of this, but I showcased my skills I had learned over the years in my resume, and was honest with what I wasn’t great at, but told them I was willing to learn.

I have worked with this company for almost 6 months and learned more than I did with four years of college. This job has challenged me – I do have to do research on my own time to get better, and I have to learn new programs on a weekly basis. I am always working on something new, and learning from it. As I work on my new degree along side working in the field, I get better and better and realize this is exactly where I should be.

I realize not everyone can work in their career field while going to school, but I think there should be more programs in place that get your feet wet in the major as soon as you start college.
Why? COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE! and not everyone has mommy and daddy to pay for it. Having a working knowledge of what exactly we are getting ourselves into would be great.

I know that I could have googled what my major was like and read complaints now, but back then when everyone tells you how wonderful and rewarding it will be, why would I?

Also to note – A lot of countries have apprenticeship programs for students after they get out of high school. In many of these programs students for work with a mentor for an extended amount of time to learn the trade/job they want to do. It would be nice if we had more of these programs in place.

My advice:

+ Before you start college try to talk to people in the career field you wish to work in. Talk to them one-on-one and not in a “observation” or professional atmosphere. Let them tell you what they like and don’t like. If you get lucky and know people who have switched from your major, ask them why. It is crucial to get all sides of the story, because this is your money, your time, and your future career.
+ Try to get experience in your field before your major classes. My first major class wasn’t scheduled until my sophomore year and the intro classes were very simple and easy, so really it wasn’t giving me any true experiences that spoke to the career.
+ From my experience: If you are not reading the assigned material and pushing back assignments in major classes because you feel they are boring or do not see the point of doing them, and this is a common occurrence… Then this major is probably not for you.

Do something you love, and something you will put those extra hours into.

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One thought on “This Degree isn’t for you

  1. but I think there should be more programs in place that get your feet wet in the major as soon as you start college.

    I totally agree. Even something simple like being able to shadow someone as part of a class super early on would give people a better idea about their career choice without getting too far into it.

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