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Son's confession

dcsparentdcsparent Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
edited March 2013 in Theater/Drama Majors
Two days after our first college visit (to Carnegie-Mellon), my son confessed at dinner that he doesn't want to go to college at all. He wants to move to New York, take classes, and work. We talked it through, and he seems quite serious about it. He's only a sophomore, so I know he has plenty of time to change his mind. But surprisingly, I wouldn't be heart- broken if he tried out the real world first (though I don't think I can abandon CC yet!) Have any of you encountered this with your kids? Should I push college on a kid who probably wouldn't appreciate it?
Post edited by dcsparent on

Replies to: Son's confession

  • photomom5photomom5 Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    My opinion, and this is truly just my opinion, is that this needs to be an ongoing dialog for the next few years. You know your son and he will do a lot of growing up between now and the day he graduates from high school. I would make sure he continues to work hard at school to keep his options open. It is just too early to close the doors...

    I would also encourage him to look into other programs. There are other paths open to him other than just college. I think a gap year is a wonderful idea, I think no child should go to college if they are truly not going to get the most out of it.

    CMU is a top tier program, however, there are so many other colleges that might pique his interest, I would tell him the best decision is an informed one, and explore all the options. It seems so easy to them, move to the city, get a job, take some classes...but it is just not that simple. Find folks in the field, talk to them, get guidance from whoever and wherever you can...

    Again, just the opinion of a mom who has two theatre children.
  • MarbleheaderMarbleheader Registered User Posts: 694 Member
    Not sure if you and your son have spent time in NYC. If not, maybe plan a weekend to just see a show, travel by subway, hang around the city, give him a taste of everything. Show him a few schools there, too (NYU, Fordham, Pace). Maybe if he sees that he can move to NYC, take classes (enrolled in a degree program), and "work" (participate in college productions), that will give him what he needs.
  • halflokumhalflokum Registered User Posts: 1,870 Senior Member
    Two very thoughtful posts above. I'd be like you, heartbroken at the thought of it and beyond uncomfortable. <<<woops edit: I misread your post you said I "wouldn't be uncomfortable". Missed the "n't"

    I hope people don't watch shows like "Glee" and see Rachel and Kurt in their JYNORMOUS (not a word but I like it) apartment in New York with all of the exposed brick etc. sliding freight door and think yeah, that's what it would be like. Think one's own bedroom, cut it in half, then fit in the kitchen, toilet and shower stall if you're lucky otherwise it might just be a hose attached to a sink. Oh, and a roommate or two.

    But there are people who do it and can't follow any other path. As a parent, we'd have to mourn the loss of our own dream and then hope for the best I guess. Luckily there is indeed plenty of time to for him to wrestle with his feelings. Also as the other kids start to talk about college non-stop, kids who thought they were not interested sometimes get swept up in it.
  • milkshakespearemilkshakespeare Registered User Posts: 263 Junior Member
    When I was in high school I didn't want to go to college. I thought there was no point on going to college as I was already producing and directing and acting in my own films and had been involved with theater for a long long time. But, as Paula Vogel said in "How I Learned to Drive": "I am very old, very cynical of the world, and I know it all. In short, I am seventeen years old." Eventually I found out that I didn't know it all, but the idea of going to college did not excite me. That is, until I discovered amazing schools like CalArts and Central School of Speech and Drama's Collaborative and Devised Theatre program and the National Theater Institute. I always knew I was 'unconventional' to say the least, but I never knew there were schools that were like that as well :)

    America has a large variety of programs to please "both Greeks and Trojans" ;) so I'm pretty sure your son will find something that intrests him. If not, there's nothing wrong with going to NYC and just trying to land some roles. It's just harder and it takes a lot of maturity. Although I'm not from NYC I'm also from a huge city, and I know you have to be street smart to survive in NYC.
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,167 Senior Member
    Maybe look at a few conservatory programs in NYC with your son as well.. Cap21, Circle in the Square, AMDA, etc...

    Loving the post above about the glamour of living in NYC as a young artist...

    When I first lived in NYC my friends and I lived in a small studio with my best friend and I sharing the bed, one of our friends on the sofa, and another on the recliner chair. This only lasted 4 weeks while we were all looking for better digs.... but, it worked and was cheep... although pretty far east (by the Roosevelt Island Tramway), so transport to midtown for auditions was more complicated.

    After that I moved to a VERY small studio on the Upper West Side... 150 sq. feet (including the bathroom), with no closet space, two windows (one in the bathroom) that looked over a dark alley/"courtyard," a mini fridge/ stove top sink unit was almost $800 per month in the mid-1990s. That same unit now is closer to $1400+. Honestly, it was too small an apartment to live in with another adult person. Basically, a glorified dorm room with a mini fridge, sink, and stove top.

    When I was an early/ mid 20-something FRIENDS was the new big show on TV. My actual friends and I would sit and watch it (often on my black and white TV with rabbit ears because we could not afford cable) and talk back to the TV about the fact that they were all "struggling" in NYC in apartments that were three times the size and 5 times the cost of ours. Perhaps "Smash" is the next big thing in this regard. :-) Ivy's apartment is pretty great!
  • sally305sally305 Registered User Posts: 7,604 Senior Member
    This is what worries me about starting college visits too early. I am taking my sophomore daughter on her first one next week (she is a dancer but undecided what path she wants to take--we are assuming it involves college!). She doesn't seem all that excited about it but it is so hard to schedule visits around her school/dance/work schedules during the school year, and junior year will be worse.

    What if you just don't talk about it for a while...maybe a couple of months? His friends may not have started even thinking about life after high school yet. Such a tough time.
  • skewlcounselorskewlcounselor Registered User Posts: 240 Junior Member
    I would say just take college off the table for awhile. Maybe what he is saying is, "I am not ready to talk about this just yet." Just let him enjoy the ride of high school for awhile. In time, he will again be ready to talk about life after high school. Read: when my friends are talking about life after high school.

    There are many paths to success and just as many ways to define success and not all of them involved college! Many (many) years ago I broke up with my boyfriend, primarily because he dropped out of college after freshman year while nothing could stand between me and my four-year degree. Fast forward to my ten-year reunion. Guess who owned his own company and lived in a multi-million dollar house and guess who was living paycheck to paycheck?
  • sosomenzasosomenza - Posts: 2,122 Senior Member
    I think the choice should ultimately be his, but make sure he keeps his grades up so he will have a choice.
  • halflokumhalflokum Registered User Posts: 1,870 Senior Member
    @KatMT I like your description of the glamour of living in NYC as a young artist way better than mine. Why don't they show THAT on Smash/Glee? Would it change the story that much? Maybe the camera angles would be too tough? Here is Rachel's foot, now the top of Kurt's head, an arm....

    I also love things like, "oh Kurt just showed up, I guess I'll get out of my housing contract with my school and find a cool a apartment" Wait, I have to still pay the contract AND rent now. But I'm a struggling artist so rather than worry about it, I think I'll just fly home to Ohio which let's assume means in and out of Columbus which is not cheap even from NYC.

    But clearly I'm watching since I know this so how sad is that. Though I think I'm almost out though. So close....
  • threedthreed Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    dcsparent; I totally understand what you are feeling. I am dealing with it right now with my daughter who is a junior, does very well in school, however wants to be done with it and just graduate, take acting classes, and work. I on the other hand am the unfair mother who feels that she should go to college. Why? To be honest I am sacred for her. I admit it. I want her to at least have a degree even if it is a BFA so that if she needs to get a job she can at least say she has more then a HSD. She on the other hand just wants to act, she doesn't care if for the rest of her life she struggles. Will it be hard if she makes this choice; absolutely, but so will attending a school that she does not want to be at.

    She has spoken with great energy about some of the schools that I dare not repeat and gets absolutely excited and animated when she mentions them. As a parent I need to help her research these options no matter what I feel about them. But also try to find the ones with a great reputation just in case she chooses to go this route.

    When I try to get her to look at a bunch of other schools that I have heard mentioned on CC or I have looked up online she goes into shut down mode, starts talking about her dislike for academics....I am not helping her at all at this point am I?

    This week I did my part by taking her on colleges visits, and we saw Depaul, Columbia College, and Northwestern. The latter because her teacher highly recommended it and she did not know what I knew about what type of school it is. I am glad she was able to see a highly competitive conservatory type BFA program (Depaul), a urban free spirited very large let everyone in BA program (Columbia College), and a top rated high academic BA/BS program (Northwestern).

    She really liked Depaul (thank God!), and also really likes UNCSA (previous experience), and now she is thinking a conservatory program would be great if it is 99% acting 1% academics:):):) Its a start people, calm down!

    This summer she will attend the BUTSI program (Thank you Marblehead), and maybe she will grow to like this program and the academics, or not, we will see. She has mentioned wanting to go to school in CA so CALARTS and Chapman have been researched and we are going to visit them. I am reaching and working with her every step of the way.

    This is all we can do as parents of kids who may not want to go to college. Encourage, make available, look for moments, expose, etc.

    Before the visits she would have said and still may that she prefers not to go to school and just wants to "keep it moving", translation; go right into acting, wait tables, do whatever is neccessary while she works on doing what she loves and feels is the only thing she is good at.

    Who am I to spend all day telling her how important an education is, how many people on CC have told me that a liberal arts education is important, etc. I am the person who spent 4 years in undergrad and 2 years in grad school in a field I am no longer in and am working a job that I absolutely am blessed to have but totally outside of anything I ever wanted or dreamed of doing.

    I guess I am getting off the point as usual. I am not as versed as many CC'ers are:)

    I have had the pleasure of speaking to MKSP many times, and it has been such a pleasure. It took her an extra year, but she found her place, and I am betting on the fact that there will be a school out there for my daughter also. We will find it even if I have to start one:) Just joking. I am hoping we will find it. It will need to be as close to a true conservatory as possible because that is where she will feel most comfortable and will not have to be forced to go. I will most likely not make her spread a wide net to schools she does not want to go to, but will continue to guide and encourage hopefully in a way that will not see her move to CA to escape me and do exactly what I am hoping she does not.

    I guess my point is listen to you son, validate his feelings, walk with him on this journey fully supportive, take his likes and try to show him how they may fit in to some of the programs he shows even the little bit of interest in...and in the end all we can hope for is that it works out in his best interest. Not every child was meant to go to school even if every parent feels their child was meant to:)

    If my daughter finds and applies for 3-5 schools that are true conservatories that she likes and wants to go to I need to throw a huge party, not get upset because she is not casting a wide net. If I try to throw that wide net on her I am going to absolutely strangle her.

    Believe me dcsparent I will spend the next year trying to walk out what I just said to you:):):)

    Remember also, time is on your side. He is only a sophomore and could have a whole different feeling next year. Maybe you could send him to a summer program at a college to let him experience a little piece of what its actually like. I heard on CC that Univ of Minnesota has one for two weeks and it is not very costly. Of course this could backfire and make him not want to go to school evenmore. (PS if this happens. you didn't get this suggestion from me:)

    By the way off the subject again, I absolutely LOVED Northwestern so I guess that means according to my daughter I must be a nerd:):):)

    If you have a child that wants strong academics, a very supportive encouraging environment, the ability to take a wide range of courses and double major or minor, wonderful facilities, numerous opportunities to be in student productions, etc. I would HIGHLY encourage you give this school a visit! (Man, I so wish my daughter was a nerd:)
  • threedthreed Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Ok, I just looked at my post and the smiley faces are way out of control. Can someone please cut and paste them to the CM thread for some group cheer.
  • KarmaMKarmaM Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    My son said the same thing when he was a sophomore, except that he wanted to move to LA and try to get an agent. I've always felt that trying to force your children to follow your plan for them is a loser's game, so, like you, I tried not to freak out and instead listened to him and accepted that there can be valid reasons for getting out there as soon as possible. In our case, he has never had a "young" look, so eventually he decided that it would be better to get more training for what he hopes will be a lifelong career. That makes it sound simpler than it was, but getting past the "youth" thing helped.

    Also, I think there's a developmental aspect to this. Age 15 was pretty much the nadir of our relationship with our son--he wanted to be grown up and independent, and hated the reality that he still depended on us for--well, everything. There's still a lot of magical thinking going on, so what seems so clearly a fantasy to us parents, looks perfectly feasible to them. And we don’t want them to lose that magical thinking entirely—it’s what makes them who they are, isn’t it? But as they mature over the next couple of years, they naturally start thinking more realistically about their future.

    It’s absurd, really, to expect sophomores in high school to know what they want to do after they graduate. Your son will probably change his mind several times over the next couple of years. Even when our son decided to go to college after all, he didn’t want to consider any place out of town because his girlfriend would still be here. Again, this was a time to apply the “don’t freak out” policy.

    As many others have said, keep an open mind and keep talking and especially listening to your son. Spend the next year educating yourself about the options, even if he’s not receptive to your sharing what you’ve learned. My son wasn’t ready to think in detail about college until fall of senior year—I know, I know, everyone says get them to write their essays during the summer, etc. Not happening at our house. By the fall, though, he was much more amenable to exploring different college programs, figuring out which ones sounded right for him, and doing the work of self-examination necessary for deciding and for writing those essays.

    The outcome: he applied to a mix of liberal arts BA programs and conservatory-style BFAs, still not completely sure what he wanted. He was lucky to get accepted to a BFA and after visiting the school, decided at last that this was where he belonged. It was a bit of a stretch for us to commit to that path, without the hedging of bets that a BA seems to offer, but I like to think we would have supported even a decision to forego college entirely if he had a realistic alternative plan.

    Keep calm, carry on, and enjoy the next couple of years with your son!
  • TheRealKEVPTheRealKEVP - Posts: 986 Member
    I agree with a lot of what other people have said.

    But many people are behaving as though your only chance to go to college is right at the moment you graduate from High School. That's not true, as my life certainly illustrates. You can go and try something for a while after High School, and then if it doesn't work out go to college at that time. College isn't going anywhere.

    It sounds like the young people we are talking about ARE actually concerned about furthering there education post High School. Because they are talking about "taking classes" in New York. There are a lot of first rate acting studios in New York, that have produced many succesful actors. That's what we are talking about, and for many actors this is all the "college" they have or need.

    Karl Paananen
  • hdparkerhdparker Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
    I'll echo the "get the kid to NYC and get a feel" theme.

    The romanticising of the "stuggling NY artist" is laughable. That apartment that the Glee kids live in would easily cost well over a million dollars and cost WELL over $3500-4000 to rent. And that's if you could even find one.

    I love how they think they can throw a sliding door, some dirty walls and an old chair into an expansive loft and pass that off as realistic struggling. As silly as it seems to those of us with experience in the city, there have to be A LOT of people out there who would believe that this is a realistic depiction of the stuggling NYC artist. I mean, do any of them even have a job? There isn't even the closer to real-life artist-by-day/waiter-by-night storyline.

    I know that those shows are strictly for entertainment but I spit my beer out when I first saw that poor Rachel Berry's "lower east-side" slum loft. Oh the damn, damn horror.

    I think every child, school or not, who has an interest the performing arts should spend a month in NY as part of an orientation to the world they are signing up for.

    It just may change a few perspectives.
  • Gwen FairfaxGwen Fairfax Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    Sophomores are so darn cute!! It's a big exciting world and who wouldn't want to jump right in? He will grow and change a lot in the next two years and likely realize that the first step is a pretty big one, even if it's only to Local U. And if he still wants to take the tiger by the tail he do a gap year and play the future by ear.
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