My parents were always good to me when I was growing up, and it’s hard to imagine how differently my life may have turned out if they hadn’t been.
They were good to me when I was in college, also. They didn’t have much money to contribute to my tuition, but they called every Sunday and they’d always visit at least once a year and buy me an apartment full of groceries and whatever sundries I’d been living without due to a lack of cash or, more likely, a lack of civilized behavior. (Who needs a trash can when you can use a shoe box? Who needs a shower mat when you can use an old pizza box? With a couple of slices left in it?)
And they didn’t bother me about what I was studying — they just trusted me to figure it out. And believe me, it’s not like I didn’t give them reason. I was double majoring in philosophy and English literature at one time, so if they were the type to get in my business about future prospects, I’m sure I would’ve heard about it.
And so it makes me sad to hear stories about students with unsupportive parents. Not to say that parental concern about their child’s future prospects is a bad thing; after all, you never stop worrying about your kids, regardless of how old they are.
But when those disagreements turn nasty, everyone loses. To that end, Yolanda writes:
Dear Judge Josh,
I’m currently going into my junior year, for Computer Animation. Although it is highly stressful and half the time I end up banging my head about the software crashing or not having enough hours to meet a deadline, I really love doing it.
Well, that’s a good start — an in-demand field and a curriculum you love. And I know this may fall on deaf ears right now, but if you love it and the assignments are tough, then the stress is natural. It means you’re taking things seriously, and you should be.
The problem is after I graduate. I will have over 100k in student loans.
Yep, that’s a problem. Not necessarily an insurmountable one, but still, certainly not the ideal situation.
My parents keep telling me what I am doing is crazy and I will not get a job immediately or even at all, and possibly never will because I have no work experience, connections, or any skill in what I do at all. I am just “practicing” but I’m not doing anything else to secure my position in the industry.
That’s a loaded paragraph. Let me address the bits and pieces:
a) If they’re telling you it’s crazy to take out $100k in loans — well, try not to blame them for that. That’s a shocking amount for all but the wealthiest parents.
b) If they’re telling you it’ll be hard to get a job — well, they may be right. It really depends on how good you are at computer animation when you come out.
c) If they’re saying you need work experience and connections — they’re right. Your top priority right now should be these two things, because they will help you the most when it comes to getting a job. Most times, these two things will not lay themselves at your doorstep — you’ll have to go out and bust your hump to find connections and get work.
How to make connections and get work experience while you’re still in college is a big topic that needs its own post. If any of you guys want that, speak up in the comments and I’ll put it on the docket (no “Judge Josh” pun intended).
d) If they’re saying you won’t succeed because you have no skill in what you do at all, then that’s just an asshole thing to say to your kid. I mean, even if it’s actually TRUE (although I get the feeling it’s not), it’s still a stupid and mean thing to say, because they’re your parents, and they ought to know you’re going to take their words to heart in a way that’s not constructive. Far better, obviously, to just encourage you to work, work, work on your weak spots and bring them up.
Since my school is also out of state I’m severely limited in mode of transportation.
To go where? I’m not sure how this relates to the problem, although it seems at this point like seeing less of your parents may be a good thing for now.
This along with the said loans has made my family highly stressful and volatile to myself and each other to the point of desperation and aggression about the money.
Stressful, volatile and agressive = bad combination in just about any situation, I think. You said “student loans” above, but I was just wondering, did they take out any of the loans themselves (PLUS Loans, etc.)? Not that it would excuse volatility and aggression on their parts, but it just makes me curious. If they’re not on the hook for the money, then it’s your financial problem, not theirs.
And if they are on the hook for the money — well, they’d be on the same hook for the money regardless of what you were studying. That’s the principal point of contention between parents and students when it comes to college money — the whole, “I’m paying for your education, so I want a say in what you do” idea.
Frankly, that’s between every student and their parents. If you’re the type of person who can stomach being told what to do in exchange for funding, then by all means, that’s a fine arrangement. Personally, I’m the opposite. I’d much rather go the outlaw (NEW SITE NAME FORESHADOWING ALERT!) route and do what I want to do, even if it means I have to pay more. But that’s a bargain that each person has to make him/herself.
In all honesty they expect me to fail in every way shape or form because I do not exude success like other people who got rich and famous at a young age or were “destined” to be great.
Uh, and your folks were in great proximity to these tiny achievers as they grew up? And they want you to model yourself after people who got rich and famous at a young age? I have to say, Yolanda, I’m really starting to dislike your parents. No offense.
Unless riches, fame, and the elusive “greatness” title are of intense importance to you (advice: please, please ignore that shit if you can possibly make yourself do it), then don’t aim for them. Aim instead for a job you enjoy that provides an income that allows you at least a stable, and preferably a comfortable life where you can at least enjoy some of the things you like to do and, if you’re interested, support a family.
Wealth and fame and being worshiped by others is all well and good if you want that — but don’t let your parents want it for you.
I admit my self esteem in not very healthy.
Gee, you think? Thanks Mom & Dad!
I know I want to pursue my career until the end but my mom and dad often times tell me that the only reason why I am still continuing my education is because of my pride, that I don’t want to admit defeat;
Dude — are you failing all your courses? Are your professors telling you to quit? If not, then where’s the whole “defeat” angle coming from? Can you do the work? You seem to be nowhere near defeat, except when you’re listening to your folks.
not because I find joy in it and I believe that I will succeed.
Well, I know you find joy in it because you’ve said so, and I’m not surprised that you have doubts about whether you’ll succeed, with your parents yammering on as they seem to be doing. More on that in a second.
I am twenty-three as I write this. I started out a lot later then others because like a lot of people, I didn’t have goals in my or i begin to become extremely apathetic and depress because I felt that no matter what I would choose to do, it wouldn’t change the situation I lived in, it would always get worse and worse. But then I found something I loved.
In other words, you didn’t go to college straight out of high school, and therefore added yourself to a list of folks who are, statistically speaking, very unlikely EVER to attend college. You then battled back from depression and apathy and got yourself into college in an in-demand field, and you’ve made it through the first two years.
Sounds to me like you’re halfway through a pretty cool success story.
I admit I am not like the crazy talented students out there who are able to pull out Pixar level animated shorts in a course of a month, sometimes even a week. I am definitely slower in catching things then other people. Because of this I am constantly catching up. Last semester I had to quit my jobs just so I could focus more on my schooling, and missed out on a lot of the recruiter presentations just so I could meet the deadlines and do my schoolwork. But despite all the setbacks, seeing the little model on the computer screen jump, make a dance, or even sit and stand melts all those stresses away.
OK, so you don’t have the natural talent some of your classmates have, and it takes you longer to grasp things. Fine. In my experience, though, determination can easily trump that — determination and LOTS and lots of practice. Determination is the key.
Sure, a lot of naturally talented people may go off and get better-paying jobs more quickly. But again — also speaking from experience — a lot of the “slower learner” types that I’ve been around who have stuck with it and stuck with it until they’ve mastered what they need to know have done very well. They also seem to thrive better AFTER they get a job, because when things get rough — well, they’re used to it. The hyper-talented folks for whom things have always come easy sometimes freeze up when the going gets rough, because they’re not accustomed to truly tough challenges.
However I feel that everything I do will be in vain and end up destroying my family’s livelihood.
Well, here’s the thing — you appear to be past the point of no return, Yolanda. You’ve taken the loans, and you’re going to have to pay them back whether you finish school or not. Would you rather have a job and a career while you’re paying them back — or would you rather drop out, have no career, and STILL pay them back. Not to mention the devastation you’re going to feel every month writing that fat check to the government for 20-30 years for an education you never got to use.
We are definitely not rich, or even middle class. Every time I make a mistake, big or small means that I will mess everything up in my life and my families.
This is false, plain and simple. Everyone makes mistakes big and small, including you, and that doesn’t spell ruin for your family. And you’ll continue to make mistakes — just like everyone else.
I just want to know if this is what I want to do or am i naive to the point of stupidity and should just ground myself in reality and give up because it makes my family sad and mad and look for something else before they end up losing their house, have smeared credit and force to live out of a car. Either way I know this is a situation that will not have a full solution.
It seems like you may be blowing the consequences out of proportion a bit, but we’ll set that aside. The most difficult situation you can get into is having to pay back those student loans without a decent job. You can’t get a decent animation job unless you continue your degree.
Can you complete the degree? Only you can answer that, and unfortunately your primary influence is pretty negative in that regard. I can only give you generic advice, since I don’t know what your skill level is exactly and whether you’re going to be able to cut it.
However, even with your parents tearing you down, it seems like you do believe you can finish it, and if you believe it, I believe it. The worst I’ve heard you say about yourself is that you’re not an elite animation student, and that it takes you longer to grasp the concepts than it does some of your peers. Big deal. Honestly.
Jumping back to the fame-and-fortune topic I so dislike: history is littered with famous, rich, outstanding, great achievers of all sorts who were in the same spot you’re in. They weren’t great, or sometimes even good, at their chosen endeavor from day one. But they kept working hard and refused to admit defeat (sorry Dad!). And they got better and better and became — well, they became whatever they wanted to be.
It’s up to you.
Thank you for your time in reading this.
—You’re welcome, and sorry for the verbosity today. What about you guys — got any comments/advice for Yolanda? We’ve got a pretty good core group of cheerleading commenters at this point, and today, I would suggest that this is a pretty good time to weigh in with some positivity for Yolanda.