My college search has been a huge pain, but it’s still probably easier than other people’s. I found a field of interest very early. I have always liked writing, but when I started doing movies for school projects, I got hooked. I kept making movies on my own, and I loved the entire process. I feel like if I were able to make a comfortable living just doing some form of film-making—television or commercials or movies or whatever—I would be content with my life.
So, that made my college search considerably easier. I got to narrow down my selection substantially using one question “Do you have a media arts (film making) program?” There were a surprising number of colleges that tried to sell me something along the lines of “We have this program where you could design your own degree, and maybe you could go to a film school after you graduate.”
I am doing online classes, AP classes, and CLEP tests to get college credit while in high school so I can go to college for four years and THEN go to a film school?
That concern aside, I still probably have it easier than my peers in looking for a college. I decided to not search colleges outside of Minnesota because of cost. Going to college fairs and asking the “Do you have a media arts (film making) program?” question eliminated a lot of college choices. After that, I did a lot of college visits and eliminated the colleges where I didn’t feel comfortable, and also the ones that had terrible media arts programs.
Although they are a pain, I recommend doing as many college visits as you can. You are going to be spending the next four years or so there, so you need to feel comfortable. If you have done a college visit, you know the feeling. You feel like you are accepted and you could be a part of the community, not just a sheep being herded through. After narrowing my list down to two to three colleges, I participated in scholarship weekends and visit weekends. I got to basically live the college life, visit classes, eat, play games, talk to students and at least try to sleep. I found the overnight visits enjoyable, and the scholarship competitions helped get me more money.
Speaking of money, apply for as many scholarships as you can. You won’t get any if you don’t try. Also, FAFSA, a government loan/grant program, is helpful. The forms you have to fill out are painful and boring. They also make you read pages and pages and take quizzes on brain-warping information like, “Yes, you do need to pay back your loans.” But the effort spent is worth the return.
I do have a college picked out—Bethany Lutheran in Mankato. The school gave me the most scholarship money and also has the best media arts program I could find. Plus, I felt most comfortable there.
If anyone has any advice for picking a college—or getting money to pay for college—feel free to share in the comments.
One more piece of advice I will offer: I mentioned that I eliminated a lot of colleges with the media arts question. I also wrote out a list of other questions. I brought the list with and asked every single college (that passed the initial test) those questions. It impressed everyone I talked to. It also helped my memory since after two or three college visits, they tend to blend together.
See you next week.