Seniors! College Corner

Shining the spotlight on non-traditional film, photography, and drama majors

by Finley Stroh, Online Editor-In-Chief

September, October, November. The months count down when college and life after high school is almost always something seniors have on our minds. From planning what seems to be the rest of your life, reflecting on your interests, financial and interest fit, and applications, there’s a lot for seniors to think about, including what major route you are going to take.

Some students choose to zero in on the passion side of life after high school, which can often come with more work than others. Non-traditional majors are something that can both draw students in and also push some out. Often times these majors, including theater, the arts, photography and film, aren’t guaranteed a set ‘life after college’ or set ‘economical path’ as much as traditional majors with set paths, including nursing and engineering. Non-traditional majors can be highly competitive, requiring a heavy application process, and different ways of learning throughout classes. But also one thing they do guarantee is that you will be following your passion.

Dahyun Kim, senior, plans on majoring in  Filmmaking at a university, his top being Seattle Film Institute, in hopes to write and direct films as a career. Comparing his thought process when deciding on his major he shares, “In taking non-traditional classes I can still express myself in art, and this is what I’m passionate about, I never really found passion in the stem field like other people” Kim said.

Some colleges Kim is interested in, including Cornish College of the Arts, require a hefty application process, including a portfolio, sample of pieces, and a short film that makes the process of applying to a nontraditional majors  more complicated some traditional applications. The unstable economics can also be a deterring factor compared to the stability of traditional careers with a set path, “I think the reason why it is not considered traditional is because it doesn’t guarantee you a stable future,” said Kim. “if you are a filmmaker, people have to watch your films…you have to have the consumer side in order to be a producer”.

Working to become these ‘producers’ of art, Skylar Tillman, a Shorewood graduate and current Professional Studies and Fine Arts first year student with an emphasis in production and directing at San Diego State, and Parker Holloway, a graduate from the Bush School and current first year Drama student at NYU. Both have found their current majors to be demanding and competitive in the application process, while also being rewarding in fueling their passions and granting them one step closer to their dream jobs.

Tillman shared that most students go straight into the film industry, but more recently universities are broadening their film majors and Tillman is confident with her decision in her major. ”I love my major because I am able to do something I am passionate about and can be creative with. I’ve realized that the best way I express myself is creativity and I really love that I can possibly do it as a career one day,” she said.

Holloway emphasized his struggles in his application process of attending National Unified Auditions to audition for 20 colleges, through tapes, training and live auditions. Holloway shares his use of the platform Acceptd, where he sent self tapes of songs and monologues to colleges, and he advises the use of an abundance of connections from throughout your life, sharing, “the most important thing for me is to trust myself and my training, and use my resources smartly. It won’t be easy, but it’s not supposed to be (though one could argue it should be easier to make it in the U.S. I would agree,)” he said.

Speaking of “It won’t be easy”, Kim, Tillman and Holloway all recognize the drive and passion students must have to make it through the taxing workload, competition and career uncertainties that come with these majors. “The film industry is very competitive, and I knew that going in,” Tillman said. Although this doesn’t turn her away, yet pushes her further to her dreams, “I also know that the film industry is heavily male dominated but that just pushes me even more to want to become successful,” she said.

Despite the competitive atmosphere she has found and utilized the supportive resources of San Diego State, joined the Film Society Club, and has been rewarded with film opportunities already. “I think San Diego State will give me lots of opportunities and connections to be able to make it happen. I have only been here for about two months and I’ve already had some cool opportunities,” Tillman said.

Together, despite the demanding workload of these students’ majors, the career and economic  uncertainty that this can cause, students’ stress yet passion and interest of putting themselves and their art in the spotlight is ultimately the camera that captures it all.

 “It might be I’m too naive, or maybe I haven’t experienced this harsh world yet,” Kim said. “There’s really good quote I like, ‘you should not follow the money, but you should let the money follow you, if you do something you really love, then money, fame, popularity will follow you automatically,” Kim said.

 As an ode to our graduate, Tillman, on her way in her Professional Studies and Fine Arts major already, she said, “I think if you are wanting to pursue an untraditional major it is super important that you are very passionate and driven about it. Don’t let anyone judge you because at the end of the day you are doing something that you are happy with and that’s all that matters.”