Creatives: To Go to School or Not

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Its all about being able to do good work

Let’s be honest there are plenty of creative professionals that are super successful that didn’t go to college. Its a field you can teach yourself. Now a days, anything is considered (its not right) but its the reality.

There are so many studies emerging about the value of a formal education, and few of them seem to advocate that college training is necessary or essential for success. There is a long list of possible careers in which people can succeed, or earn a lot of money, without any formal training.

What about the “creatives” of the world? The website design people, the cinematographers, the artists and sculptors? Do they actually require a college degree to be a success? (Goodwine, 2013) Maybe. The best answer is probably “it depends”. Let’s give this some serious consideration since the price of college, as well as the amount of time and dedication it requires, are significant.

First things first, the benefits. Heading to college or art school does come with several benefits. You will gain exposure to new ideas and lots of like-minded people when you go to school. This translates to personal growth, and that is invaluable. Is it enough to warrant several years and large amounts of money? A good way to look at the expense of college is to say you are buying the time to be free from a job. Just make sure you are able to be focused on what you want to do when you get out. College is a good place to test out careers.

Its a big decision. Is it worth the money and debt you will assume? We need some cost / benefit analysis here.

Well, for those in the creative fields, a lot of experts are indicating that there can be many better alternatives. Take a job related to the field in which you considered studying, finding out if it does indeed make your heart sing, getting some experience, and then deciding if a formal degree is even necessary. The major benefit of a degree is going to be the ability to get your foot in the door. Many of the top creative places to work just want to see you can do work.

Try to remember that we go to college or school to get a degree or licensure, and few creative careers demand this. While website development and some careers in video or filmmaking might serve to illustrate that formal training is useful, they still don’t prove that licensure thats not required. If you want to be an Architect, you need a degree.

The goal is to be able to go out and earn money because of your degree and the skills you learned. If there is no guarantee of that after years of study, why pay for the training? Instead, you can take time to learn what it takes to do the work you find inspiring. Use the Internet and search for as much information as possible. Everything is, quite literally, online and you can learn a lot more than just basics from free online courses, seminars, and more.

If you are looking for more stability and security than DIY training, give honest thought to your chosen field. Is there any way to separate yourself or develop a niche? Can you find a licensable degree that would guarantee you something to “fall back on” if your independent stance did not yield results?

Here’s the good news: Creative people have an amazing range of options. Whether you want to be involved in website work, cinematography, creative collaboration, storytelling, or high quality video production, you can get started without years in college. The big question is, will that path allow you to build a career or business?

The best and most important thing about going to school is the connections you meet. Going to Harvard business school doesn’t necessarily give you a better education, but it sure as heck connects you with a group of people you never would have had access to. Thats probably worth $250k.

Read - Do it for love Read - Film just opens the door [/eightcolumns]