Don’t sell your dreams

Cultivation of artistic abilities

Jeffrey Riley Talon staff writer

Acceptance envelopes come in the mail. Rejection letters are received and discarded. Preceding the application process, as early as freshman year, it’s hard not to consider what career path the future holds. As children, we wanted to be astronauts, dancers, professional athletes, President.

Unrealistic dreams? Well some of them. The odds of making an NFL roster is 0.2% according to the NFL Players Association. It’s important to differentiate from grappling with reality or selling out your dreams due to ideals imposed on us.

The schooling process, inadvertently or intentionally reality-checked us, and now much more “tangible” goals have been ingrained in our minds.

We’ve been given the odds of such lofty outcomes and received unsolicited advice concerning the practicality of our dreams.

The dismal situation comes into question when merely the threat of an “unsuccessful” future is enough to deter a student from pursuing their aspirations.

While the wise words of those before us are not to be taken lightly, it is important for one to maturely determine the definition of a successful life prior to being vacuumed into the cost-benefit analysis vortex that is the working world.

It’s paramount to be realistic in assessing possible aspirations. The likelihood of becoming a professional basketball player at 5’ 7” is miniscule. But real people can make living off of acting careers or museum curating.

Striking a cord with me, personally, is the anxious nature that surrounds a future in the arts. The dread that comes with telling those funding your education that you want to dance or produce music for a living.

This fear is a result of what Sir Ken Robinson claims in his 2006 TED lecture as the “hierarchy of subjects” that every education system possesses.

As one may assume, mathematics and sciences are atop the totem pole, with the humanities (linguistics, history, philosophy) in the middle, and at the bottom are the arts. It only takes a look at the required credits for most colleges to see that this is truth. As soon as there is a mandatory amount of theater credits for an ivy-league or liberal arts university, then the theory may be revised.

Although that may be true, there is no reason to claim that the education system needs to be flipped on its head. It boils down to developing our passions and gifts.

For example, those that excel at organizing and coordinating the direction of group projects receive my envy for their administrative skills. This only contrasts to the artistic skill of another student because of our conditioning to think one is more practical than the other.

As Minnehaha Academy students, we are given the opportunity to cultivate and grow our artistic abilities ranging from sculpture to film to orchestra. Our fine arts programs and expeditions have always been ingrained as part of the pride of being a Redhawk. Last month’s Arrow highlighted our success in these areas and provided reminders of the power that can accompany a fine-art related performance.

That being said, the numbers haven’t changed much. Four of the top five majors with the highest paying starting salaries go to engineering majors, with the odd one being computer sciences, according to CNN.

Although, contrary to popular belief, or the belief of the parents of the artists, the avenues for a student graduating with a degree in this line of work will continue to grow a projected 12 percent through 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May, 2010. While it’s hard to funnel the broad spectrum of (mostly self-employed) career possibilities into an average annual salary overall, the outlook for the imminent future is promising.

Regardless of the predicted future, there are too many variables to create an accurate depiction of working environments ten, even five years from now. One can only become comfortable with the trends and realize that pursuing a photography career may not be the safest way to rocket you into financial security.

Again, it’s of the utmost importance to maturely realize what career path could adequately support a family and pay off a college education.

With such a high percentage of students changing their majors in college, it can seem unnecessary to speculate what circumstances will have changed in the years leading up to declaring your major.

However, follow a career path where your passions lie. It would be  more than unfortunate to have a generation of creative minds squander their talent due to what ideals have been imposed on them. Don’t sell out your dreams.


About Jeff Riley

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