Preparing for College

Fine Arts Degrees Don't Lead to Frustration

There’s a big misconception out there among (especially) parents and others that getting a college degree in the liberal arts area these days, particularly the so-called “fine arts” area is a huge waste of time and money. The thinking is that unless you can graduate from college with some kind of degree in an area of technical expertise (engineering, biology, business, accounting, etc.), you’re destined not only to live a life of quiet desperation but also make an extremely low wage the rest of your life. Well, to that, in the words of TV’s M*A*S*H*‘ Col. Potter, I say, “Horse hockey!”

I’ve always believed that passion, motivation, creativity, and a little luck can go a long way toward overcoming the common-wisdom mythology about the worth and potential of fine-arts degrees. I have an arts degree. Mine is in music history and literature and, over the course of my life, I have done fairly well, thank you. The skills I learned in my liberal-arts/ fine-arts curriculum gave me enough skills and focus to survive a number of economic ups and downs across the decades.

The simple fact is that not all of us are cut out for those technical degree programs I mentioned above. Speaking for myself, I started out in a business administration degree program my first semester in college. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so the gravitational default back in those days, and even today to a large extent, is to do something “meaningful” (whatever that means). I hit the wall early that first semester when I had to stay up all night several times, working accounting projects. My balance sheets never seemed to balance. It was then that  discovered that I was not (and am not) a “numbers” guy.

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