Picking a college major

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jrthebassguy, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. When I had I first entered college, I had it all figured out. I didn't want to be one of those guys going to college with no set plan and waste valuable money and time for credits you don't need, and I've seen far too my people at my community college burn out because of lack of direction.

    Unfortunately, I think I'm there now, losing direction and focus.

    Since my senior year in high school, I figured myself to be a business major. It's practical, it could get me decent paying career when I'm done, and I'm sure I could do it. But do I want to do that? I mean, I'm toying with idea to own my own clothing business one day, but its not like you need a degree to show you how to run that. But then again, maybe you do.

    I still have that creative urge. I realized I'll never be anything other than a mediocre musician and in tandem with wrist/elbow problems being a professional musician is basically out of the question.

    So I was watching Napoleon Dynamite again (and the short film, Peluca) and then it hit me: I want to make movies. The problem with getting a degree in communications (thats what the film-radio-television major falls under in most universities) is that it begs one question: Do you want fries with that? I mean, I'm afraid with a degree like that I'd end up just some lackey fetching coffee for some overpayed director, whereas a business degree gives me a good base and almost gurantees a decent salary. But then again, I could end up some lackey fetching coffee for some overpayed boss and making somebody else rich with my own work.

    Maybe people who are majoring/did major in either degree could give me some insight on what their respective major had to offer. If you're in college and are close to your degree, tell me your experiences with it. If you're in the workforce with either degree, tell me how far it has gotten you.

    Really, advice from anyone who has college experience would be fantastic. I just need some direction. I'm also looking to transfer to a real university within a year or two (looking at Texas, Texas A&M, and North Texas, among others).
  2. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Been there, done that, just got out of college in December (after 5 and a half years). I had the same feelings you had, just stick in there, get your gen eds out of the way until you find a major. If you are at a decent university, you'll find a major that works for you. I went from a prospective marketing major right out of HS, then to a psych major, then undecided, then statistics, then I found my home in geography. It might take you a couple of semesters, and it might take some trial and error, but if you stick with it, and don't drop out (although you might have the strong urge to) you'll find the right major for you. I didn't want to lose the "creative edge" either, but as I went along with the program, I found that you can have a creative edge in a lot of college programs that you might not have known before or even have known to exist in the first place. Do your research, and I mean, look at everything your prospective school has to offer, everything. Although I probably should've been booted after a few semesters of really poor academic performance, I ended up with a degree from the best geography department in the country. Although it's been a over a month since I've graduated, I don't have a job lined up, but there are always good leads anywhere I turn. Just look around, you'll find something eventually as long as you don't decide to quit and end up flipping the obligatory burger for the rest of your life.
  3. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I had a big long post written out about how I decided to major in what I'm about to graduate in, but it boils down to this: Take stock of a couple things that you think would be really cool to do for a few years. Take those ideas and see if there's a major at your college that you can get into that will get you there. If there is, work hard. If it's a creative field like video production, look at how hard all your classmates are working and do twice that much. If you have to take an internship, don't bull**** your way through it, find people that are going to bust your ass and let you do cool ****, and beg your way into their studio, even if you have to work for free.

    When you graduate, if you're any good at all, you'll have the chops to get started somewhere. It might just be shooting film for your local news or something, but it's a start; and that's all you need.

    Besides, most people of the younger generation change careers pretty often. People in creative fields like video production and graphic design are usually burnt out of the business 5-10 years after they get into it, if they even last that long. Do what you can for as long as you can, and when it's time to go, find the next fun gig.
  4. well, what do you really want to do?
    because if you go into filmaking, you may have to work at the local fast food joint to pay some bills, but you'll be doing what you want to do...and who knows? maybe you won't ba able to find a job in business for a year or two, and you'll have to work at McDonald's for a while before you get started. the fact is, that you don't know what is going to happen in five years, no matter which occupation you go into. i say, do what you really want to do.
    Or get the best of both worlds. keep on with your business degree, and take a filmmaking course as well...it may cost some more money, but you will see what its really like, and then you can make your decision based off what you experianced.

    good luck!
  5. fatdawg


    Sep 7, 2004
    I don't know if your school even offers it, but I double majored in busines and commercial music which is now a degree at Millikin University called--wait for it--Commercial Music Business. All it means is that I studied all the usual business courses, however, I also studied not just musical junk like my bass and voice and theory and ear training. I got four years of Studio Engineering, Production, Video Production, Editing, Digital enhancement, etc. I loved it.
    Thing is, it is a legitimate business degree that will hold its own if I needed it to.
    My point is, just cuz your major may infer that you focused your energy to one course of study does not mean that you can't take the time to enhance your knowledge with some cool sh** along the way. Like was stated earlier " take stock of what you think you wanna do".

  6. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Unless you plan on being an engineer, doctor or some sort of scientist, what you major in will likely have little bearing on your overall career path.

    Major in "Combined Studies" Or "Multidisciplinary Studies" - do a business degree with a minor in film studies, whatever turns your crank.

    IMO, making movies has two components: the business side and the creative side. To be successful, you'll need to have a good grasp on both. Making a movie is like running a large complicated business-like project - limited resources, competing deadlines and schedules and of course, the Almighty Bottom Line.

    Stay in business, do the filmmaking as a minor, or on the side, or as a volunteer type thing and go from there.

    Oh, and work your ass off! :D


    Edit: just read fatdawg's and superbassman2000's posts above - I agree with them completely...
  7. fatdawg


    Sep 7, 2004
    Edit: just read fatdawg's and superbassman2000's posts above - I agree with them completely...[/QUOTE]

    I am fatter than you DD. J/K but not really.
  8. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I'd start by going to the career center at your college (assuming they have one) and ask if they have any kind of self-assessment testing. Offering self-assessments in college is growing in popularity. In fact, I was able to take one a few weeks ago;).

    Once you take that, another thing that might be helplful is to sit down with all the job postings in the career center to see if any float your boat. Maybe a few do. Others may not.

    My story: I got an undergraduate degree in Accounting. I hated the coursework and hated being an accountant even more! So, I went to get my MBA. I finished my MBA about 6 months into my current job and started soul searching. With my job being relocated, I have the daunting task of finding a job that pays as well as my current one, but have to be able to support my wife and 7-month old. I can't change careers and expect to earn as much as I do now...not with ease, anyway. :meh:

    Fortunately, you're not in this boat. It's perfectly okay to pick a major, graduate, find a job, then decide you don't like what you do and find something else. It's not the final decision you have to make. But, do it all before you have to be responsible for other people.;)
  9. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    My son is planning on a dual major, film and business, at the University of North Texas. It's in Denton.

    And they have an awesome music program, so you'll never lack for people to jam with.

    Amusing side note. My son, Michael, works at a childrens theater school. He was talking with an older man who occasionally directs plays at the school. He had directed Seussical:the Musical last year with Michael as Assistant Director, so that's why they are being sociable the other day when one is 55 and the other is 20. Okay, so anyway, the older guy, S. is looking at materials for an audition for a movie to be filmed this summer, a sequel to a horror movie by a local filmaker. Michael says "What are you looking at?" S. says "I'm reading up for this audition." Michael looks at the title and says "Yeah. I'll work on that, too." S. thought that was really presumptious of Michael to just assume he could get hired on on the movie, when experienced actors had to audition, and started to get irritated at him. Nichael stopped him by pointing at the Writer/Director's name on the front of the pages, and saying "That is my ex-brother-in-law. I've worked on all his movies, but one."

    Less amusing side note. The movie that this one will be a sequel to was Jon Keeyes first film. It was a slasher-type movie. The first female victim was named after my wife. The male survivor was named after me. And a lame but memorable moment from out early dating era, that my wife liked to tell in a story got used as dialogue in the movie. Michael was an extra in that movie, a victim in several others, and a Production Assistant/Intern/Gopher on one last year.

  10. How is the double major working out for him there? That sounds right up my alley, actually.

    A few of my friends go to that school and keep trying to convince me that's where I need to go to college, and I even visited the campus over new years....not a bad place, but I haven't decided where to go yet.
  11. Humblerumble


    Feb 22, 2004
    I recommend to every young person that will listen to get a personality assessment for career direction. The Myers Briggs are available on line for about $50 and will be worth every penny. I only wish someone had pointed me in that direction when I was younger. I worked as a land surveyor because my Dad owned his own company, but it was not something I had any passion about. I stumbled onto the Myers Briggs tests about ten years ago, and realized how much I liked technology and complex problems. Spent about six month researching and finally decided on computer networking and engineering. I have been in the field now for about five years and blasted my way up the career ladder out of my passion for what I am doing. Other people groan when we have a new technology we have to learn and I jump all over it, because I LIKE IT! Gives me such an advantage over the person who is just going through the motions, much like I did as a surveyor. Anyway find out what you are wired for and its not even like working for a living :) Hope this helps.
  12. I have a communications degree, and it really didn't end up being what I wanted it to be. The emphasis was placed far more on theories of the media, public relations, interpersonal communication, pop culture etc than it was on media production, which is what I was most interested in. Granted I got to do some video and multimedia production, and volunteer with the campus TV station, but that only accounted for maybe 15% of my education.

    I did a one year program in audio engineering after university, so now I'm sitting here with those 2 degrees... working part time as a janitor while freelancing in the music industry as a bassist and soundman. I've done some sound for film as well, it's a pretty intense media to work with.

    IME, my communications degree was well suited to working in government jobs or public relations etc, but that wasn't what I wanted to use it for. If you want to specifically get into film, I'd suggest going to a college specifically for film.
  13. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    I'm not sure what I should do. I took the The Strong Interest Inventory Test
    My occupational theme highlight: Artistic, Average interest. :rolleyes: I guess it's just because I like music. I'm not artistic. And that was the only thing in the occupational theme section.
    All the interest scale highlights were under average, besides art and athletics. They were average.
    I'm going to a counselor at the University of Iceland on Thursday. I hope he/she will be able to help me.
  14. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    That's funny... Next year I'm going to UW-Milwaukee for Cinema/Film studies, and hopefully minoring in business. Filmmaking is the only thing that I can do to fufill my creative side, while still being able to work with my technical side. And I've always been into business. My family has a strong business sense and background (dad owns marketing business, brother business major, etc.).
  15. Personally I've never put a lot of stock into those self evaluation things or guidance counsellors, I don't trust either of them to choose the direction of my life.

    Do what you want to do, not what the test or someone else tells you to.
  16. hetsscaryguy


    May 22, 2004
    im doing computer science im only a junior freshman so i dont know if my opinion will be worth anything. I went back to college on the 10th of January under serious protest. I came to the realisation ( well thought i came to the realisation) that i hated my course and it was wrong for me. I wanted to transfer to another college and just study computer games programming which is my ambition. I should point out that im studying computer science. Then i looked at the choices that i will have in fourth year to study for my finals and realised that the course is perfect for what i want to do. I can major in Computer Graphics, Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence. (all thats required to do computer game programming). I still hate certain aspects of my cours but im willing to stick it out. I realised that all i need is to do well in the important subjects such as programming until fourth year and then in fourth year just do well in all my other subjects that i choose.

    So i guess what im trying to say is, your course may not seem like its going where you want it to go but in the end it will work out ok. Look at your options for subjects to major in. If you are interested in doing something in the tv/film/radio area look hard at the choices and see which ones could be applied to those areas. The one thing that i have been repeatedly told is that what you study in college has very little relevance to the work you do after college. My brother studied Computer Networking and now hes a software engineer, my sister studied physics and now she is a software tester.

    What you need to do is choose subjects that could be applied to the area your interested in. Then get a job with a company in this area. Then when your in the company express an interest in other areas and you'll be surprised at how willing a company will be to provide you with training in that area. All you have to do is show a keen interest and prove yourself to be a good employee who would be a good candidate in that area.

    Hope i've been of some help.
  17. hetsscaryguy


    May 22, 2004
    i wouldn't normally argue with a person so much older than me on this type of subject but what you said is crap. I've done those things and they dont work, ive seen people come out of career guidance sessions being told to do something that they have no interst in, it happened one of my friends and he took the advice because he was garanteed byt the career guidance person that his personality was suited to the subject. Six months down he road he has quit college.
  18. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Something to consider: There are a LOT of different people involved with making movies.

    Have you considered being a location recording engineer? Post-sound? Post-edit? Editing? Sound effects? Special effects? Soundtrack scoring? Writing? (A smidge harder to break into.)

    There are so many aspects to making movies that I think it's silly that a lot of people think that either they're going to be a director, an actor, or nothing.

    And why limit yourself to movies? What about television? Radio? Vaudeville. (Maybe not Vaudeville.)

    There are plenty of good schools with programs allowing you to get your chops up in any of those fields.

    Or, you can be like the rest of us and draw out of a hat. That's how I got to be a "Man of the Evening".
  19. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    The Meyers-Briggs test is not without its flaws, but there is some merit to the test. While the "job placement" aspect of it is sketchy at best, you're setting yourself up for failure if you choose a career that someone else told you to pursue.

    Now, if you use the test as a tool to analyze the way you think, how well you interact with others, and your areas of interest, you can apply that knowledge to any and all potential jobs to see if they are a fit for you. That would be a much more practical way of applying a test like the Meyers-Briggs.

    If you have to have someone tell you what job you should take, and you do it without reservation, then there might be more problems than simply not having a job. ;)
  20. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    There's plenty of good advice here, and I'll ruin it by adding mine ;)

    I got my bachelors in Business Management, and my post grad work was in Secondary Education. I am now a Web Developer. Go figure.......

    When it comes to your career, work experience will trump education every time. If you're looking for a guitar player for your band, with all things being equal, will you take a high school drop-out who has played thousand gigs and studio sessions, or PhD in music who has never played outside of his bedroom? I know who I will take. The same goes for most careers.

    Take some time to explore outside of the academic world. The academic world is a sterilized, controlled environment. The real world isn't. So talk to people who are in the fields that you are interested in to find out the pros and cons. If you can tag along for a day or two, that's great too. Try this and that, and most of the time worst thing that can happen is you found what you don't like. You're young enough to recover from your mistakes, so make some. A man who never messed up, never did anything with his life.

    Another thing is not to look at college as a ticket to a career, but a place to acquire the funds to purchase the ticket. What I'm saying is that college is a place to acquire skills and knowledge, and opportunities to network with others. A degree in business won't automatically get you job as an exec, nor will a theatre degree get you an acting job. But a degree in business should get you some of the skills to work in the commercial realm if the college is worth it's salt. Use college to acquire tools for the toolbox you'll use to repair and maintain your life.

    Once again, I cannot stress enough how important hands on experience and contacts are. There are probably more people with a degree in theatre or film that are waiting tables than working on a set. On the other hand, you'd be surprised how few people in the film industry actually have a degree in film. The same goes for many industries. In my work as a computer programmer, I would say those with a comp sci degree are minority at my company. Get work experience by hook or crook. You're at a great age for it because you don't have a mortgage, wife, kids, etc and working for free to get experience won't have as many adverse effects as it will when you get older.

    Good luck