How Does a Degree Dictate your Life?

The following entry was written by Sheldon Brown, class of 2014.

So it’s time to apply for college admission. You’ve spent your high school years debating what to do in life. If you’re like me, you changed your mind a dozen times about career paths, schools, location. Now, with the perspective from the other end of the four years spent earning a degree, I can tell you this: the one thing I learned throughout my college years is that you must be embrace change. Your interests change, relationships change, and you change; it’s an integral part of growing up. One of the big changes I made at Emerson was switching degrees in the Performing Arts.

student thinkingOriginally, I entered Emerson with hopes of completing a BFA degree in Acting. Later down the line I realized that, although a prestigious and wonderful major, this program track was not the best fit for me. Once I realized this and let go of the idea that I needed to earn a BFA, I was able create a college experience full of classes that fit my specific wants and needs. It’s important to note that no degree guarantees a job — it’s all about finding and acquiring the best skills and tools for your career aspirations, and whether that degree happens through a BFA or BA does not make a difference in a world where you find success because of your capability, work ethic, personality, and aptitude.

When choosing the major and degree type that’s right for you, think about how you work and what you want to achieve. Some programs include an intense curriculum that is prohibitive if you wish to to double major, minor, have internships, or study abroad (particularly during the academic year). On the other hand these programs may offer the opportunities to create capstones, perform in showcases, and guarantee that a large chunk of your education will be dedicated to honing your craft. So know yourself and know how you want to spend your time. If you’re a person with a variety of different interests, want to travel the world every semester, or get a taste of the professional world, you may find the BA programs a better fit. If you want to live and breathe acting, are happiest when you’re in rehearsals and shows, and know that your aspirations are focused on performance, then the BFA may suit you.

In the end, whatever you decide does not dictate what you can or can’t do in life. There famous actors who never went to school for acting; some of the richest people in the world didn’t even finish their degree. However, the key to being successful is to be happy. I found out I love music and art, so I picked up few minors that focused on art history and music appreciation. I’m traveling abroad to our Kasteel Well program during my last semester of school, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform in many productions with local theater companies. I can say with confidence that things turned out for the best, and the choices I made about what I wanted to prioritize got me to a place of peace. Don’t let the branding of programs/schools dictate your judgment: find what really speaks to you, do your research, and take with you the knowledge that no major selection or college choice is permanent!

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