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College Conflicts - long story

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Aquarius, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Aquarius

    Aquarius Member

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    Hi all,

    I am a high school sophomore, and am already having a "college crisis". Here's my story: All my life up until high school, I've been interested in the sciences and mathematics. Even now, I have an A+ in AP Biology, and I haven't even opened our textbook since the class started (our AP Bio course is ranked 12th in the country, BTW). I had been planning on going into some sort of science or engineering field in college. That is, until the 2nd quarter of freshman year. That's when I ran stage crew for my 1st show. I fell in love with it and decided to take the intro to technical theatre course the next semester. I basically worked every show or production that happened in the theater that semester (I ASMed, ran Light Board, ran Sound Board for a dance concert, designed lights for another concert....you get the gist). The TD asked me to skip the other tech classes that are offered, and go into the Advanced Theatrical Production class my sophomore year (normally requires that you take the other tech classes, be a junior or senior, and go through a series of interviews (max class size of 4)). This year I have been Assistant Lighting Designer and Assistant Technical Director for our two major productions.

    Now comes the problem. I have started getting letters from colleges, and on my PSAT, under "Major of Interest", I put Technical Theater. My parents are freaking out, as they are concerned that I won't be able to make a living and will be "throwing my life away" (direct quote) in the theater. I've talked with the TD about it (he and I are good friends), and we talked about career choices and such. I'm determined that that this is what I want to do with my life, but my parents have decided that "we need to meet with the counselor and have this fixed" (another direct quote). I know that the conflict is going to come to a head soon. How should I go about convincing them that I will be able to make a living and have fun doing this as a career?



    Thanks for listening to my life story, and for any suggestions you may have.
     
  2. ishboo

    ishboo Active Member

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    There are a handful of posts on this topic (weather a career is economically feasible) Getting a job in the industry Is a good article to start at. After that try the search function, there are many articles in this area with people having similar concerns.
     
  3. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Since you appear to be good with academics, have you considered making it a goal to persue academic theatre? Perhaps as a TD in a Colelge or University setting? These jobs typicall pay fairly well and have great benefits, but usually require a MFA along with typical real world expirence. Just thought I'd put that out there. It is a different scenario, as it involves working with students and teaching, however, it is a great way to make a living in a stable enviroment (compared to "professional" theatre). Just my $0.02.

    ~Dave
     
  4. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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  5. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Double major in theatre and physics or do a 5-year program with theatre and Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. A 5-year arts/engineering program would most likely be excellent credentials for the industry.
     
  6. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I tried to do that when I got my engineering degree but couldn't make it work. The Arts and Engineering department class schedules produced too many conflicts to attend lectures or do labs.

    That's the bad news. The good news is I was fortunate enough to get the Arts department to waive prerequisites so I could do a 4th year lighting design course when time opened up in my engineering schedule, and crewed at the campus theatres during my university years.
     
  7. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Always seems to work here...we've got 2 people who are engineering majors/theatre minors as well as one person on the 5-year track: arts and engineering, and he seems to be doing fine with taking the required classes for both. And we've probably got at least one more 5-year track person coming in next year as well.
     
  8. dbthetd

    dbthetd Member

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    You do have a big decision to make, and the breadth of available options may be wider than you think.

    BUT

    There should really be no questions as to whether or not you will be able to make a living. There's plenty of work available, and every year people find a way to make their lives work with the gigs they can get.

    After teaching almost a decade I cannot think of a single person who has ever found themselves stranded without income.

    If you've got specific questions, you can email me at dboevers AT cmu DOT edu
     
  9. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    I feel your pain. My parents are afraid I will end up in tech theatre. Clearly the world would stop!!! I'm currently going into engineering, but I may add a minor or 2nd major in tech theatre.
     
  10. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Occupation:
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    Do that AND learn automation and you'll be somebody's golden boy. Hard to find folks that can build from the circuits up.
     
  11. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I did Electrical and Computer Engineering for my BS. Now I'm wishing I had gone with the theater. So much so that I'm trying to get back into it. (I have a post on the general board looking for theater companies in the NY area who would need an EE)

    My point, you've got to do what you think is best, or you may end up like me and regret the decision down the road.

    On the other hand, as people keep saying, an EE in the theater world would be a good asset for a company to have...
     
  12. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    A few random thoughts:

    - You’re still a high school sophomore. You’ve got plenty of time to figure things out, and who knows, you may even change your mind. Again. And Again.

    - Double majors are tough. Make sure you want to do both of them. I’ve known people try double majors – one for them and one for their parents. Often turns out badly.

    - Parents mean well. They want the best for you. But there is no easy answer. When a student knows what they want to do, but have parents that compel the student in another direction, the outcome will probably be less than favorable. When the parents relent to the inevitable, things usually work out. Mentally, at least.

    - And related to that last item, I’ve known plenty of people who entered college with plans on one particular major and graduated with a completely different one.

    Joe
     
  13. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    There are people out there in the lighting design field making very good money.

    these are general amounts and yes it does take TIME to build your self and get high up.

    $750 day - Automated lighting programmer
    $1,000 day- Lighting designer
    $2,500+ day - Lighting consultant

    And most rental houses need shop techs, and semi freelance people that they can call when they need someone extra on a gig
     
  14. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Guess I should have gone into lighting, I'd be making a lot more!

    Just to be fair, don't get too hooked on such numbers, keep in mind that a good part of your time will not be billable and you also have to cover all the overhead - taxes, insurance, professional memberships, continuing education, etc. definitely take a chunk of that.

    Not to keep bringing up the same thing but it sounds like this might fit your goals, https://engineering.purdue.edu/ENE/Academics/Undergrad/IDE/plans, Engineering degree programs in Acoustical Engineering, Lighting Engineering and Theatre Engineering Studies.
     
  15. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    I 100% agree personally I just need enough to survive and purchase what I need to live and to further my lighting career. BUT numbers like these can help persuade a parent to agree with a career in theatre/concert technician.
     
  16. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    I was planning on going into Electrical Engineering, and i also made an A+ in AP Bio. I would have been happy doing either, but the real decision came my senior year in HS. I realized that i would miss theater way too much to try to do anything else. And i was making plans for the future to get me back into the theater. I stopped and realized that theater was the right place for me.

    My only advice is to follow your dreams.
     

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