By: Amy at University Language On: February 6, 2012 In: Academics Comments: 0

There’s no money in an arts major – or is there?

Students of dance, drama, music, studio art, creative writing and other artistic fields may be wondering whether or not to make their interest their major.

Clearly, if you’re fueled by passion and enthusiasm for a subject, you should pursue it. But how professional can you afford to be about the arts? Is it worth it to major in what may be one of the worst-paying college degrees? Read on if you are trying to decide if an arts major is for you.

Arts major pros:

  • Your schoolwork is far less likely to bore you. However challenging the curriculum may be,  if you enjoy the topic, it’ll be easier to focus and do well.
  • Inventive and interesting jobs are on the horizon. Teaching is an obvious choice. There are also a variety of jobs in arts administration and management. Your degree will be flexible. Employers often look for diverse skill sets and creative minds. An arts major on your transcript demonstrates that you can think “outside the box” and come up with new ideas. You may be pleasantly surprised by the career you end up with!
  • Final projects can be great career training. Your senior thesis could involve directing a play, putting on an art show or recital, or writing a manuscript. This kind of experience looks good on a resume, of course, and it may be a lot of fun, too. It’ll certainly be good practice for opportunities you want to pursue when you graduate.

College is one of the only chances you’ll get to explore your interests wholeheartedly and to study with teachers who have done the same. Don’t be afraid to ask professors and advisers any questions you may have about your future in the arts.

Arts major cons:

  • You may be training for a profession, but it’s not always a lucrative one. With the rare exception, jobs in the arts don’t come with fat paychecks. Be prepared to find a job that’s outside the realm of your college major. Or consider minoring in a field within the arts, while majoring in something else.
  • The competition is stiff. As you may know from pursuing auditions, shows or publications, a lot of aspiring artists vie for only a few spots. You’ll have to work extra hard to stand out. Slacking off may be part of the stereotype of an arts major, but the reality is that majoring in the arts involves as much time and effort as math or business.
  • Arts majors need self-motivation. Can you work independently? Are you able to set deadlines for yourself and meet them? Are you prepared to be active in seeking out job and performance opportunities? School provides some structure, but it’s up to you to schedule time to practice, rehearse or revise.

You want to work toward a solid, well-rounded college education. Check your school’s major requirements – while some colleges have a core curriculum, others may require little coursework outside of the major field. If you manage to graduate without paying at least some attention to the sciences, social sciences and humanities, you won’t have taken full advantage of your time in college.

Perfecting your art form is important for an arts major, but so is getting good grades. It’s crucial to learn how to balance time in the artist’s studio with time hitting the books – and this kind of time management, of course, is a valuable skill in college and beyond. An arts major can allow you to do what you love, with the added bonus of a degree at the end.

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