Our middle son has a passion for filmmaking. His passion began around age 7 with a film created on his “Digital Blue” camera about his imaginary land of “Telbonia.” Since his first film, he has become an award-winning and money-making high school film maker and video producer.

I love to share his adventures with friends and family, who invariably ask if he plans to pursue film as a career. As a parent, this is a scary question. The graphic below shows a 12.9% unemployment rate for film and video majors. My husband and I talk about this topic frequently. As two left-brainers with accounting and science degrees, we have no idea what a career in film entails or if it is even a possibility.

So, what should you do if your child wants a degree in film, creative writing, British literature or another major that is not necessarily going to yield a job offer at graduation?

We are forming a plan of action as we wrestle with these questions:

PLAN OF ACTION:

RESEARCH

We’ve talked and speculated, but now it is time for actual research. Our questions include: What are the top film schools? Are their graduates employed and where? What are the types of film degrees? Is one better than another? Is there a way to double major in film and business or film and pre-law? Are there business degrees with an emphasis in the film industry? I do not know the answer to any of these questions!

PAYING FOR IT

 What do these places cost???? Do they give academic scholarships or is a film degree only for the super wealthy and connected?

WHO IS THIS JOURNEY ABOUT?

 We all want our children to be happy and self-sufficient. What if he puts his all into a career in film and it does not work out? What then? Would we feel like failures as parents because we “let” him do this? Would we feel that because we paid for his education, that we are entitled to a return on our investment that includes pride in his accomplishments?

The journey will ultimately be his. He will have to weigh the risk vs. reward of this pursuit. He knows we are not the kind of parents who will allow him to move back into his childhood room as a college graduate. He will be expected to figure out how to support himself with whatever degree he chooses.

We are starting the research now and are planning a trip to California in the spring to check out some of the top schools and invite you to take this journey with us and share your insight (especially if you are walking or have walked this same road).

I have made a printable “College Quest” form to help us with our research and hope it will help you as well. Ideally, your student would fill these out for each school in which they are interested, but with some kiddos (especially sons), you may have to help them with their research and getting that research into a usable format. When our first child went to college, I made a giant spreadsheet with all of this information (deadlines, visit dates, contact information, possible scholarships, cost, etc.), but I think having an attractive sheet for each school will work better for us this time.

Helping a child plan his future can be scary. We are approaching our anxiety with research, research, and more research, including the big question of how to pay for his pursuit. We will help him pursue all scholarship and financial aid opportunities and provide a budget of  our contribution to his college funding. In the end the decision about a college major will be his with the understanding that we will cheer for him the whole way, but expect him to mature into an independent job-holding member of society.

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