College Question regarding college and life

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by NCulmone, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. NCulmone

    NCulmone Member

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    Center Valley, PA
    Hi folks!

    I'm turning to strangers on the internet for guidance because why not? So currently I'm enrolled in a B.A. program for Design and Technology with a concentration in Lighting. I also have two professional jobs currently working as an electrician/ stagehand for both.

    My question is, I already have these professional jobs, and they pay well, and I suck at school, I have an awful time doing anything that isn't related to theatre/ electricity. Would it negatively affect me for the rest of my life if I left school and continued working these jobs full time for a few years? I want to go on tour eventually to pay back my student loans, I don't really want to do much theatre anymore, I enjoy doing dance and concerts a lot more. And I don't think grad school is really on the table for me since I'm having such a terrible time with undergrad. I also really enjoy electrician work so I wouldn't mind doing that for a long time.
  2. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Sherpa CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Las Vegas
    I hope that you have read the pinned threads in this forum. There is a variety of opinions for people who have gone this route. The degree is necessary for only parts of this industry. Not having a degree will not preclude you from being successful, but may close some doors in the future. That being said, you may not have wanted to go through those doors in the first place. If you get a job in the corporate world, there may be opportunities to go back to school later (one of my co-workers did, as he left for tour while getting his undergrad).

    You may also consider if you are going to the right school. Some schools don't offer the opportunities that will satisfy you. However, this industry as a whole is not one that you should go very deep in debt for, as those student loans will be a bear to pay off.
    Wes and RonHebbard like this.
  3. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    @NCulmone You might consider an apprenticeship as an IBEW (International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers) Installation and Maintenance electrician. You could at least look into it as a possibility. Looking back upon my past; while in grade four I became interested in technical theater and / or technical broadcast. My father died suddenly when I was 13 which resulted my mother and I both having to work while my mom kept a roof over our head and I continued my schooling. My working life was an overlap of 13 years maintaining a six tower 10 Kw 24 / 7 / 365 commercial AM broadcasting station, building and relocating to new studios three times, a five year IBEW apprenticeship leading to a provincial license I maintained for 43 years and 46 years paying dues in the IATSE beginning with IATSE local 129 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, then joining IATSE 357 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada initially serving as the IA Head of Sound in their main stage thrust Festival Theatre culminating in spending many years operating their multi-track analog recording studio in the basement of their Avon proscenium space, eventually moving back to Hamilton, to build and open a brand new producing theatre then getting bored and shifting laterally into playing IA Head Electrician in a scenery and AC servo automation shop building productions for Canada, Broadway, London's West End and even an opera set for communist China. You may find an interesting path in the IBEW and if you find it's not totally to your liking it can always serve as a good base to start from then branch out to other opportunities as they present themselves and you can always maintain your basic dues and return if / when desired. It may not be for you but it worked out well for me. I was combining my experiences and free-lancing for a local AV installation company when something exploded inoperably deep within my skull resulting in my living out my declining years typing here on the Control Booth forum. All the best to you @NCulmone
    Ron Hebbard
    Wes likes this.
  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Theatre Consultant
    Clayton NY 13624
    Based on your certainty for being a theatre technician, there is no need for a college degree. If you want to change careers - maybe settle in an area without regular theatre employment - it might be different.

    Don't overlook the sense if personal achievement from finishing the degree. But I'd say not worth seemingly insurmountable debt.
  5. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Brooklyn, NY
    Agree with Bill, no degree needed if your chosen path is to be technical as opposed to design.

    Dependent on the college and quality of the program, you could arguably learn a good deal about the entire aspects of technical production, outside of lighting. Having knowledge of scenery construction, props, audio and costumes can be useful in the future. as well as the things that might seem a waste of time such as a Dramatic Literature course on Shakespeare, but which pay off long term. Usually and in our business, general knowledge is actually useful.

    If your program concentrates mostly on design though, and you've no interest in being a designer, finding work now in the field gets you started on making contacts, etc...

    Down the road you HAVE to think ahead and deal with medical insurance and pension. Becoming an IATSE member in an active local is likely the best path towards eventually being able to retire with a pension. Or you spend your entire career working for a large lighting shop or company that provides benefits to it's employees.

    If you find yourself moving into management, especially at a college, you will need at least a BA/BFA and likely an MA/MFA down the road as everybody applying for those positions that you compete against will have those and it's what the educational field requires from applicants (typically).

    If you are lucky enough to be at a college that offers technical production as a major, then I would stick it out and get the degree.
    RonHebbard likes this.
  6. mbrown3039

    mbrown3039 Active Member

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    vegas, baby..!
    All good advice in the previous posts, but you should also consider how much time/effort/money you've already put into college. If you're past the halfway mark, bear down and get it done. Otherwise, it's been wasted money and an inefficient (at the very least) use of your time. Ask me how I know, lol....
    RonHebbard likes this.

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