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College Talk Blog

What to do when your kid wants to be a star

It is not unusual for a parent to hear "rock star" or "movie star" as a reply from an elementary or middle school student in response to the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  When the high schooler in the family indicates that performing arts is their career goal, some parents get alarmed. Parents are often concerned that their kid will not be able to secure paid employment in their area of interest. 
The best strategy is to respect your kid's answer and talk about it seriously.  Kids often do not know that there is a post high school training program or college degree for just about any career....including actor and musician.  Explore those programs with your kid.  For the student gifted in any aspect of performance or production, there are excellent programs at colleges and universities. In addition to exploring academic programs, explore career and job options.  The Bureau of Labor statistics has detailed information on job placement and salaries for all careers.
Students who indicate that they are interested in a career in performing arts are usually those that have some extra-curricular activity in that area.  One thing that will quickly emerge as you explore education, training and internship options in the performing arts is that students will need a resume of related experiences to gain admission to many programs.  Internships are directed largely at college students and some provide college credit for summer work.
There is a wide variety of training, education and internships available at a wide range of costs and accreditation.  A popular choice for students in the dramatic arts is the American Academy of Dramatic Arts which has campuses in New York and Los Angeles.  It is not unusual for students to think that they can graduate with a four year degree from that institution.  Actually, they can get a four year degree from their studies there but they must take an additional 9 credit hours each from three academic areas and then transfer to one of three colleges that has a transfer agreement with them.
There are colleges and universities and training programs in music and production as well.  They too have wide variability in cost and how they are organized.  The best strategy is to take the student seriously and respect their choices.  Then help them do some research to get a full picture of what is available, what it will cost, what the accreditation level is and what outcomes they can expect.
It is not unusual for students to explore a wide variety of options as they move through high school and into college.  Even after they arrive at college, it is not unusual for them to find new programs of interest to them.  The good news is that they can transfer to another college if needed and that freshmen often take similar courses regardless of major.  Students who change majors early will not necessarily  lose any credits.

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