Author Topic: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors  (Read 6381 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

PSMKay

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1356
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • http://www.smnetwork.org
  • Affiliations: None.
  • Current Gig: SMNetwork *is* my production.
  • Experience: Former SM
Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« on: Apr 06, 2009, 01:23 am »
The following is a "Dear Abby" post, submitted by a member of SMNetwork who wishes to remain anonymous.

Quote
I'm torn. I love technical theatre, every aspect of it, from set design, construction, lighting, stage management, rigging, special effects. You name it, I probably love it. My parents don't. I'm heavily involved in my school's program, and I have expanded it to over 40 students from where it was when I started at about 5-10 students.

I'm a junior in high school right now, and I'm pretty talented with computers, so we've decided that I'm going to major in Computer Science when I go to college. My parents don't want me to be academically involved in theatre when I go to college, but I do. I've been involved in theatre so long that I just can't stand the thought of giving it up. Maybe it won't be a career for me...but I want to leave it open, because I really do love it.

My parents would never allow me to only major in theatre. My question is, should I try to do a double major in both Computer Science and Technical Theatre? I know it seems early to ask this question, but it also really affects where I apply/look at/go to college. My parents have made me a long list of colleges to apply to, but only two of them have technical (non-acting/performance) theatre majors: Purdue University and the University of Miami. Both schools look great to me and I'm confident I'll get into both. They have strong programs in both Computer Science and Technical Theatre areas. I just don't know if it would be too much work to do a double major like this, or if its even feasible to earn two unrelated majors like these in a reasonable amount of time. I also don't know how useful it would end up being to me down the road, and if it's worth putting up the fight.

sievep

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 204
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #1 on: Apr 06, 2009, 01:37 am »
I think you may find that these majors are less unrelated than you think, and unless you are in a conservatory program that won't allow a double major, it's your life, my friend - and you only get one shot at it.  You should do what makes you happy.  I know way to many people who push paper for a living and hate their lives. 

Especially if you'll be the one paying off the student loans afterwards, your parents will have to learn to cope.
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

BLee

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 151
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • BrandyLee Hatcher, SM
  • Affiliations: University of California-Irvine, Graduate SM, Class of '13
  • Current Gig: Assistant Stage Manager at Disneyland Resorts
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #2 on: Apr 06, 2009, 02:00 am »
I understand this struggle, especially if your parents will be the financial backers that make college possible for you. Although I do not agree with their decision to limit your choices if that is what must be done for your education I suggest going for the double major. I know plenty of people in school programs who are successful in much more different fields than tech theatre and computer science. I hope you very much enjoy computer science as well as technical theatre because the work will be hard and depending on the number of credit hours and time of classes it may very well take an extra semester or two to finish both degrees, but it will be well worth it.

To ease your family's concerns about the prospects tied to technical theatre I think it might be useful to do some research (this is a great place to start) of what other jobs not immediately tied to the theatre that many technical theatre majors have achieved. Often parents hear the word "theatre" and see a stereotypical image of a narrow track that only speaks to the words "starving artist". As we well know this is not always the case, showing them just how broad our world really is might just help your case. Hopefully they will come to see that your passion will make you much happier in the job field later and will not limit your success by any stretch of the imagination.

Good luck with the college search. Double majors are a tough yet extremely rewarding venture. You won't regret doing what you love and with the direction the technical arts are going I'd definitely say sievep has the right idea, the field will be greatly useful together.
XX. The only valid excuse for missing one's cue is death.
-Proverb from the Techie Bible.

BKrynicki

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #3 on: Apr 06, 2009, 10:58 am »
You do not need to major in theatre to have a career in theatre, experience is what counts.  IF you enjoy computers that's a good background to have no matter what field you enter.  IF you enjoy computers my suggestion would be to find a school that also has an active theatre program and that allows non-majors to participate in their productions (note that many campuses have student run productions which are also valuable experiences).  This way you can gain experience in theatre and also have a broader education with the comp sci degree.
If computer science is not something you actually enjoy you will just be unhappy for the 4 years of school.  Ultimately you will be happier working at something you enjoy doing - that may mean making difficult choices in the short term (whether to accept parent's financial support or not, for example) - but those are choices only you can make for yourself with your long term goal in mind.

lauria

  • Link Checker Supreme!
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 63
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #4 on: Apr 06, 2009, 11:13 am »
Doing a double major is a lot of work. Keep in mind that there are other possibilities than a double major. You could be involved in a theatre club. My school was large enough that in addition to the theater department, there was a non-related theater guild. Those groups always need a lot of help. It will be a different experience to work in something not-academically related. For my school anyway, there was less faculty support, and there wasn't really anyone to teach things. People had to figure it out on their own. What works best for you?

I don't know much about Comp Sci and even the wiki article quickly went over my head, but I would think that a Comp Sci degree could help you get and keep automations jobs. There are ways to be involved with theater, still. Working automations takes a lot of skill and hard work. That is one possible career choice that could be brought up to your parents.

Another important question is if you were to try and double major or just flat out major in theater, would your parents pull financial support? It sounds like they're pretty involved in the process since they gave you a list of school to apply to. Financial support is very valuable. I lost it after my sophomore year. I ended up transfering to a state school and I still have a lot of debt. For me, my decision that made me lose financial support from my mother was totally worth it. But will it be for you? Especially when there are alternatives like a theater guild and community theater?

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. I hope I brought up some points you hadn't considered yet. Good luck on your decision!

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1574
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #5 on: Apr 06, 2009, 11:40 am »
OK, assuming the parents are paying for college, let's talk lemonade. If your school is like so many, there will be many extracurricular opportunities - the theater dept is always crawling with actor-types, but fewer willing to crew/ do the heavy lifting that goes along with tech theater as well as the actual run of a show. You can stay involved by participating. And computer skills tie perfectly to lighting and set design so in fact would enhance your skills in that arena shd you decide to go in that direction. All the latest diagrams, blueprints and hanging plots are done with computer programs that allow all kinds of quick and fascinating options.

You can certainly double major if you have the time and inclination, but in fact, several large theater depts (or those w on-campus theaters used by outside companies) have paid positions for their FOH staff and backstage crew - you can run spot or the rail, help hanging/focusing lights, loading in or out sets etc. In addition to adding a valuable skill set and staying connected to theater, you also demonstrate to your parents that one CAN make money working behind the scenes. In fact, three shows I have recently done on campus-shared houses had crew that made their livings (or a decent percentage) by working the touring shows (and, in once case, the campus shows as well). And, FWIW, as an undergrad, I earned a good chunk of my expenses working in the box office and house managing/ushering etc for touring companies and campus shows running through our 4 theaters - mind you, this in a university with no theater dept, let alone major, just campus performing groups.

Pick the place you want to be, a campus that offers a lot of variety, and go for it!
« Last Edit: Apr 07, 2009, 12:05 am by loebtmc »

Wandering Ninja

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 20
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #6 on: Apr 06, 2009, 12:18 pm »
       I know that is definitely possible to double major in science and theater. At my school (WPI.edu/+theatre) we have a few double major in theater and some engineering/science disciple. I chose a different route though. After I started my mechanical engineering degree and found out that I really enjoyed theater. As a result I will be graduating this spring with a theater minor.

      In my opinion a school does not have to have a large program to have a good program. Despite having only two faculty, 10? students seeking a major/minor in theater and maybe 25? doing a project in theatre, we manage to put on 6 shows and a festival every school year. Each of these shows is almost or entirely run by students which makes it relatively easy to try new positions and take on more responsibility. Also being a tech school we like having lots of fun on the tech side of theater.

 For example before I was officially seeking a minor in theater I was producer for Mojo and the Sayo. On a $800 budget we bought a car and smashed it through the wall every night. In addition we made sugar glass windows to be destroyed nightly. We would have lost money, except we sold the car. I have also been stage manager a few times just because I enjoy the job.

Sorry for talking up my school, I am just trying to illustrate a different way to go about getting a double major
"Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete" Waite Phillips

katykat29

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 17
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #7 on: Apr 06, 2009, 01:58 pm »
I had a friend in college who did a double major in Math and Technical Theatre.  He went to community college first and got all of his general studies credits at a fraction of the cost.  This allowed him to focus all his time and attention on the tech and math specific courses.  It was still hard going, but he felt it was worth it.

centaura

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 405
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #8 on: Apr 23, 2009, 11:19 am »
My first question is who is paying the bill - if they are, then you might offer a suggestion of a computer major with a theatre minor - the importance of a theatre degree is the hands-on part of working actual shows, and as long as you're willing to work the shows then the fact that your piece of paper says 'minor' shouldn't interfere with your employment options after college - you can show that you were working on the shows and being involved.  This would work as a compromise for your parents - they are seeing you get the 'real' degree, and you can say that at theatre minor is to help with your creative thinking processes.

Now, if you're paying for your schooling and not your parents - then its up to you.  Your parents can not dictate what you're going to pay for, any more than they can dictate what you do with your life.  Now, that's not meant to be as negative as it probably sounds, but so many parents want to force their kids into certain paths, and won't see what their kids are really skilled at and let them be what they are actually talented at.  My mother forbad me from getting a degree in theatre, since she said that I would not leave college with marketable job skills.  Well, I got a degree in theatre, and have worked in theatre for 13 years now (since graduating).  My mother now sees the opportunities that theatre has given me and thinks I've grown wonderfully as a person because of my choices. 

-Centaura

rose09

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: Dear Abby: Torn between two majors
« Reply #9 on: Apr 29, 2009, 11:10 pm »
If you want to know more info on UM, let me know, I can give you all the info you want. I'm a BFA there.


It's like a lot of them are saying, who's paying? My parents don't support my major and don't support the fact that it's in theatre, they rather see me in Medicine (which btw I was premed) but they are not paying my schooling and that's what really made me pick my major. I was planning to do something they wanted to please them, and in the end they're not living my life, not paying my bills, etc. I wanted to do something I enjoyed.