The thing about tough decisions is that it ends up occupying all your thought and time, so you don’t really have anything to write a blog about besides these facts of life that don’t really need their own blog post.
That being said, it’s time to write about my departure from art school.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I did not flunk out, and I could handle it, I just don’t want to anymore. I know there’s a faction out there that isn’t going to believe that no matter what I say, so those of you can just stop reading here. I’ll include a picture to make it worth your while.
For the rest of you, the fact is, I want an English degree and either a second degree or minor in German. I can’t do that at SCAD. It was an interesting journey coming to this conclusion, and one that I would like to write about just in case anyone can benefit from my experience. In anticipation of once again losing a few readers at this point, I’m going to throw the moral out there now: Listen to your mother.
The thing about art school is, they only teach you art. I realize how obvious this sounds, but it’s something that’s vitally important to consider heavily. When I committed to SCAD as a high school senior, I was dead convinced that I wanted to be an actress, and nothing could change my mind. To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot to be done about it at that point; I knew it was a comparatively risky decision and that only fueled me to go to art school and say screw it to the h8rs™.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t listen to anyone else, it was that I didn’t listen to myself. I ended up taking two English classes during the second semester of my senior year, and within those classes and ones from previous semesters I was pretty much the only kid who didn’t completely dread the analysis papers we had to write. In fact, I kind of loved it. Due to a combination of a busy schedule and having developed senioritis as a sophomore, I had lost touch with literature for most of high school, but that last semester reignited my relationship with books, and suddenly I was planning on double majoring in performing arts and writing.
Did you catch a couple of red flags in that last paragraph? Because they’re there. First off, I took a second English class on purpose from a teacher who has notoriously high expectations. On purpose. Second, I loved those English classes down to the most tedious and generally disgusting research papers. Finally, it made enough of an impact on me that I wanted to make it a part of my continuing education.
If I’d had the understanding I do now (I can hear the self-important elderly people of the world chuckling at my inexperienced youth), I would’ve realized that I’d be doing myself a favor to focus my attention on colleges wherein I could explore both performing arts and literature/writing to their fullest extents. I also should’ve done a little more research into SCAD’s writing program, but honestly I was so dead set on being a Bee that it wouldn’t have mattered.
My mistake was basing my college selection on what I decided I would want, not what I did want. I didn’t really start thinking that way until a very wise and generally terrific former English teacher of mine told me, “You don’t have to know what you want to do forever, you just have to know what you want to do right now.”
That was a game changer. It altered how I looked at this entire situation and helped me realize so many little things that, added together, made a huge difference. And right now, I don’t want to duke it out for every acting role I ever get, I want to rant about feminism in Macbeth and read science fiction novels until I have enough momentum to write my own. I also miss the hell out of learning German, and I shouldn’t have been okay with dropping my German education as I started college. Present Rachel was making sacrifices for Future Rachel like Future Rachel wasn’t 1000% the product of Present Rachel’s development, and that’s a great way to end up with two unhappy Rachels.
Now you may be wondering what I intend to do with an English/German degree, and the answer to that is I have no damn clue. But isn’t that kind of the point of studying what you love? To find out through immersion what it is you want to spend the rest of your life talking about?
The point is, I am no longer pretending I know what will make me happy ten years into the future. Instead, I have to do what will make me happy now and trust that that will lead me to a fulfilling career, and if not there, then to a rich husband.
I’m not under any impression that some high school senior will read this and realize that they’re on the wrong trajectory and change their ways. Frankly I’m not under the impression that there exists a high school senior that reads my blog in the first place. I don’t expect anyone to take my experiences and immediately apply them to their own life, because that’s kind of the point. I can’t be sure I ever would’ve learned any of these lessons if I hadn’t spent two quarters at a college I don’t belong at. Sure, it’s been stressful and frustrating and this decision-making process may or may not have given me chronic stress hives for a few weeks, but at least I made some friends, met John Mulaney, and had a design project hung up in Wallin Hall (because art school is actually kindergarten revised).
Also, most importantly, I learned a lot about myself. And since I feel kind of obligated to include this, my mother, Laura Jean Pintner Schollaert, from the very beginning gently encouraged me to consider traditional universities that offered a variety of classes so that I could explore my wide array of interests just in case I ended up wanting to be a criminal profiler or dog trainer or English teacher instead of an artist and I should have listened to her because if I had I wouldn’t be in this mess and I wouldn’t be weeping over the general lack of transfer scholarships offered by ANYONE because I GUESS IT’S NOT OKAY FOR 19 YEAR OLDS TO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.
Anyway, I still maintain it was all for the best, and I just want my readers to know two things that I learned through this experience, if you don’t already:
- Don’t cheat yourself out of what you know you want now in favor of what you think you should want now or will want in the future.
- Seriously, the college transfer process is really hard and the amount of scholarship money available is drastically decreased so please try to save yourself and your family from that headache if you can.