How To Deal With Unsupportive Parents

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?)

Vee ah very disappointed in jew.

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.


77 thoughts on “How To Deal With Unsupportive Parents”

  1. I wrote in to Judge Josh with a very similar problem–wanting to get an education in art to pursue animation/concept art/design and unfortunately having no cheer squad in my family. I haven’t taken out any loans or the like, since I fear debt more than the plague, but I am also older and spent the past 6 years trying to get an education in Nursing–only to be thwarted by impossible entry statistics. My mom has no art skills whatsoever (shes a nurse though, go figure) and she spent much of her time preaching how nursing would be perfect for me–money money money, work part time, have health benefits etc. But I always loved art and drawing and somehow allowed her to brainwash me into thinking college is for studying a major in which you can get a REAL JOB and not a place to study a “hobby.” But now Ive finished all my education I can do for nursing and I still cant get into a program. Ive been taking art classes and I now have terribly new, impossible goals–working for an animation studio or Disney Imagineering. Im late in the game, but god damn it, Im loving art, and for being a newbie, what Im doing isnt half bad. I feel deep in my heart that if I did get into a nursing program, and managed to complete it and graduate, Id be miserable. And Id regret it. I dont regret much in life, but one thing I do regret more and more is not studying art when I first started out in college. But hey, things happen for a reason! I have good, unexplainable feelings about art now. Something much bigger than myself seems to keep pointing out to me that art is my future. So I’m going to listen.
    And to you, I say this: Be creative. Be imaginative. Live and laugh and be inspired! Animation is all about creativity and expression and imagination. So immerse yourself in all those things–write, draw, craft, and you will have amazing skills. Having challenges in school is how it is. You’re doing just fine! I have faith in you and if you love it, you WILL make something great from it. Ive begun to believe now that people who pursue art/creative majors are the bravest of the brave; they’re risking so much for something they love. Go for it! I BELIEVE IN YOU!

    1. Hey,
      To Yuna’s comment above, my parents were the same way. I did one year of nursing and then out of the realization if i don’t do this for me who will, i switched to my current major of social psychology. What every parents has to realize is that when all is said and done it is our own happiness we are attempting to achieve. Although i understand the fact that parents are only trying to guarantee our success through a career that has a 100% return for $/ time spent rate, but what they don’t seem to realize, or if they do they ignore, the fact that we want to be satisfied with our lives. I’d say this comes out of our generation coming home everyday after school to a lot of parents who were unhappy with their jobs. Because they viewed their jobs as just as a source of income not many wanted to find happiness within it. Whereas our generation thought socialization from schools, parental dissatisfaction, maybe media has come to the realization that happiness and success can be one neat package. So I’m not sure if i can blame them for being so pessimistic at times, they just need the reassurance that we’ll be successful, isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? And isn’t that our ultimate goal?

  2. OMG, are her parents Catholic? Because the guilt-slinging is just TOO much!

    I dunno how a student takes out $100k and is starting their junior year…if the parents were concerned methinks they should have put their foot down BEFORE the money got taken out. But it’s done now, you know?

    Can this girl get any Pells? She seems to indicate they are not well off by a long stretch. I know that would take cooperation on the parents’ part, with the w2’s, 1040’s, etc…and perhaps they’d hold THAT over her head to make her change her major. Which would suck even more.

    If she’s successfully completed 2 years, she’s 1/2way done. I don’t know of any other career field that the credits would transfer easily to. There must be one, but animation information is not my strong suit. If it’s something she LOVES and if she’s willing to dig her heels in and work for it, she better grow a backbone and work her little heiny off to graduate.

    She may have to take a job doing “something else” until she finds her “in” to the animation world. And it may mean buying a piece of crap car outright and paying the equivalent of a luxury car payment on her student loan, while driving said crap car. Choices, Yolanda…choices. You chose to take out the 100k…and you pay for it in other ways. You made the choice, and now you get to own it. No whining about the huge loan bill.

    Ultimately, we are all rulers of our own universe. At some point what you say supersedes what your parents say. Not that Yolanda has to tell them that, but if they say, “You’ll never amount to anything!” she can say, “Thank you for caring enough to voice your concerns.” and then skip off on your merry way, because you do know your own worth.

  3. Cody Weinmann

    Well, I have been in negative situations myself. But most of that negativity comes from myself–not my parents. My mom has always been the go-getter or my biggest confidante in putting my mind to things and achieving what I want to achieve. I am writing a book of poems called, “I Can,” outlining my distaste for people such as Yolanda’s parents who are not interested (obviously) in their child and are negative because THEY didn’t have dreams, or because THEY failed. It doesn’t mean their child will fail. I often ask myself since I’m a music major if it is worth it, and I bang my head against the wall when things don’t work, but one thing I NEVER admit to is quitting because of guilt or devistation. I ALWAYS go for what I feel I can do, even when society in general, is looking me in the face saying, “You won’t do this. You won’t do that.” I have a slight case of cerebral palsy and the doctors said, “He won’t be able to play a musical instrument or ride a bike!” That’s bullshit because guess what? I am pretty darn good at playing the piano; I’ve played since I was two. I write my own music. A rep from Quickstar productions even wants one of my songs to put in his compilation and he likes me as an artist! Can’t get any better than that. Sure, we all go through periods where we’re not sure if we can do the things we imagine, but then we just have to buck up and do what we love. That’s what life is about right? If you love computer animation or music or whatever it is go for it, because YOU know more than anyone else that you have what it takes to succeed. Tell your parents to get a life! Or tell them that they should seek some serious psychological counseling for brainwashing you with that neglect! Do what makes YOU happy–not them. You’re not going to be caring for them. You’re going to be caring for you!

  4. Diana Watkins

    Yolanda! Do not listen to your parents! I understand coming from a background where you fear that what you do reflects on your family, but they are blowing that way out of proportion. Remember that they are human too and they make mistakes, and unfortunately they are making a big mistake in how they handle their child. It’s how my parents treated me as well, and I know it’s hard NOT to listen to them, but trust me. Don’t listen to their advice in this situation.

    You love what you do, and you’re passionate about pursuing it.
    You’re working hard and putting forth the effort you need to succeed.
    You are determined despite incredible obstacles and a lack of support.
    Your future is your own to choose.

    You do not need to be perfect. There are an amazing amount of imperfect, fallible, strange people in the workplace who somehow succeed. You will blow them out of the water because you know how to work hard, address your weak points, and come out stronger because of it.

    Your failures are human and will be forgiven, because we ALL make mistakes. Even the “great people” make mistakes. Lots of them. It’s only because they were stubborn and determined like you that they were able to work around their problems, learn from their mistakes, and go on to be even more successful.

    You really do have the aptitude for success! Many people are lazy and expect that things will just magically come to them, and they do not put forth the effort you do to succeed. You will succeed!

  5. Try to be an intern that also helps in a resume when you want to do a job.
    My mom is the same like your parents. She’s constantly being like why do you want to live to a different city just stay here. (She will help me, buy me a car and it will be less expensive for me). I didn’t take the bride instead I’m leaving and she trying to make me go on a guilt trip. I did a budget plan and found out if I rent insisted of having a dorm I save money. So do a budget plan and stick to it. I had a parent plus loan but I denied it because I did not want her to be like look what i did for you ……
    I know a girl who got her bachelors majoring in art. They question what she can do with that. She does sets for commercials and likes what she’s doing. Was even happy when they used her car for a commercial shoot. So go for what you want to go for. But keep in mind to do a budget plan b/c the lowers the amount of loans you have to take out. At time you might feel like everyone is against you but in the end its up to you to quit or not.

  6. someone who cares

    You sound like a girl who has sacrificed alot. You sound like a very hardworking girl. You sound like you are a strong-willed girl. You sound like someone who has friends who love you. You sound like a girl who has inspired atleast one of those friends to keep striving and working hard for what they love too.

    Parents can have such a strong influence on our feelings. But what more regret can one have than the kind of knowing you almost made it, could have made it, but quit BECAUSE your parents who never supported you to begin with finally convinced you into being a failure.

    If you say something to yourself enough times, you start to really believe it. Nobody who goes to thru such lengths like you have is a failure. You wanted to become something by taking Computer Animation. Are you ok with the thought of going back home, doing what your parents want you to do or become, and giving up what ambition and future you have now?

    What future would you have back home? On top of not doing what you love anymore, somehow paying back thousands of dollars that you borrowed, and basically living FOR your family day after day. If you actually dropped out of college, do you really think they’d stopped harassing you then? Instead of telling you that are crazy and and you’ll get nowhere doing what you love, they’ll be telling you “see we told you you’d fail, now look at the damage you’ve done. And nothing to show for it too. We were right. You are always wrong.”

    People who have attitudes like that very rarely change, or stop. They’ll just change their complaint to something else. Giving in won’t alleviate the stress. You’ll in fact just be closer to the source of the stress with less of a chance of improving the situation.

    Choose lesser of two evils in this situation. Better to try than to quit I say.

    Don’t give up, Yolie.

  7. Hi Yolanda,
    I am a 3d game animation student a, although I am more in to the character modeling side of things. Please don’t listen to your parents, just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean you won’t succeed, it just means you have to practice more. Also you are still in your junior year which means you are most likely still learning how to animate, and fiddle with function curves, and getting used to the software package you use at school. I know it was really hard for me to learn how to work with the 3d package my school uses but I got better and faster as time went on. If you are finding it really hard you can ask your school for a tutor, and also see if they will provide you with a digital tutors account/subscription, I know when we got digital tutors at school my classmates and I had a big tutorial watching party. A fantastic book you should consider reading cover to cover if you haven’t already is the Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams it is like the animation bible, it is about traditional animation but the concepts/principles are still the same for 3d.I find sometimes for me scribbling out an animation on paper helps me understand a lot more once I go to animate it on the computer. The advice my teachers keep giving me is firstly practice all the time, and secondly have an awesome demo reel and remember your demo reel is something you will keep updating all your life.
    Keep animating and don’t let your parents get you down.

  8. I highly recommend a summer internship. It would be extremely beneficial considering it pays pretty well, it will give you the experience companies are looking for and it will get your foot in the door whether this company decides to take you back after you graduatenor you get recruited from another company because of your experience with this company. Regardless, you can do anything long as you keep at it. I Believe In You!

  9. Hey folks how’s it going?

    Well Yolanda, Josh and the rest of the choir (‘cept that dr/ phil guy :\ ) pretty much said what I wanted to say, so I I will simply add my hearty “AMEN” and refrain from redundancy. 🙂

    Encouragement is great, but sometimes in addition to that, we need CONCRETES so that we can know what direction to go in. Honestly, I can do the encouragement piece in spades, but I’m sure what’s been posted above is sufficient in that regard, so I’m gonna give you the one concrete thing that I know regarding your situation and hope that also helps you.

    DISNEY has a slew of internship opportunities for someone with your major. Go to their website and look for “Student and College Programs” and you’ll see all of the information regarding opportunities that may apply to you. Getting hooked up with them will help you in two ways; it will give you the experience you need and it will connect you to a major name in the business so that you can get a job in the business. And just in case you didn’t know, Disney is worldwide so if you are so inclined, you don’t have to limit yourself to just the US. As far as the US is concerned, I looked at their map and they have student program sites in CA, NY, CT, OR, FL, PA, AK, UT, TX, IL, NC, CO, and WA. Pick a state! Any state! Disney is bound to have something for you.

    They have a lot of programs for Bachelor’s level folks like yourself… they have summer internships, semester-long internships, YEAR LONG internships, where you can work pt during the semester and ft during summer and breaks, post grad internships… lots of choices there. And the best part – most of these internships are PAID. AND all the internships provide training – so this could help you by showing you tricks of the trade to make it more “natural” for you, ya know what I mean? The website says that they start recruiting from September to April, so I’m guessing the applications for the internships are due in May, in time for the summer internships to start. But you should definitely check out Disney – I think this will be a good opportunity for you.

    Don’t be afraid. You have gotten yourself this far, keep pushing and you’ll definitely go further. Leave the Dr. Phil’s of the world to their own misery and you focus on your happiness, because at the end of the day, you MUST be true to yourself.
    Hope everything works out for you

  10. I’m not one of the core group of commenters. I may have commented about once this entire time, but I’m gonna have to weigh in now.

    Yolanda, when you make decisions about your future, you have to do it without the negative words of your parents ringing in your ears. Definitely talk to some academic advisers about the stuff your mom and dad have been saying; unless I miss my mark entirely, they’ll have some much more positive feedback that you can use to balance against your parents’ comments. Even better than your advisers, would be your professors. They’re the ones who can best tell you whether or not you’re likely to succeed.

    I think you can definitely make it in the animation world… what you need more than anything right now, as Judge Josh said, is a cheer squad. Talk to figures of authority at your college and ask them what they think of your progress and their opinions on your likelihood to succeed. And if that doesn’t convince you… well, /then/ you can maybe consider dropping it. But I don’t think you should.

    I think you’ll be awesome.

  11. Stick with what you are doing, and consider seeing a counselor on your campus. This is NOT because there is something wrong with you. I have experienced similar problems, though, and seeing a counselor on campus has really helped me work through my issues that my family contributed to. A counselor can even get into details about how to talk to your parents about the way they speak to you.

    When you graduate, the biggest piece of advice I have for you is to not be picky about where you look for work. Don’t say “I have to live in California, no matter what,” for instance. If there is a great job in Idaho, take it! The work experience can help you find a job in your ideal location later on. Look everywhere, blanket the country with your resume!

  12. Yolanda,
    Welcome to the “non-supportive parents” club. My parents decided to fully cut me off financially after I switched my major to Elementary Education. They told me things like “you’re too smart to be a teacher,” “you’re wasting your time” and “you won’t make any money as a teacher.” So I know exactly how you feel. In spite of their arguments I continued with the major that I knew was right for ME not them! So, they completely cut me off financially, but still decided to claim me as a dependent on their taxes. Considering they pull in about 350K a year, this pretty much screwed me for financial aid. But i was persistent and I did it anyways! I took out stafford loans, worked evenings and weekends, and got my older brother to cosign for another student loan. It wasn’t easy by any means, I survived on dreams and ramen noodles, but I’m proud so say that I will graduate Summa Cum Laude next month. Yes I’m in debt, but who cares!!! I’m getting an awesome degree, in a field that makes me ridiculously happy. I know it’s going to be difficult to pay back my loans, but i’m used to a challenge by now! If I can do it, so can you!! Take out stafford loans, or PLUS loans. You said that your parents have very low income, have you looked into getting a federal work study job? Or maybe you could get them to stop claiming you as a dependent (since they’re not supporting you anyways). Having an independent status will open up more options when it comes to financial aid. Basically, if you really want your degree….. there’s always a way. I’m a prefect example of a success story, and there are a million more just like us out there. Do what is right for you! It’s your life! By the way, I start grad school this fall… with an assistantship, so miracles do happen! GOOD LUCK!

  13. Yolanda/Judge Josh,
    I have read many of your articles; none have compelled me to respond as this one has.

    First, I am a 39 year old college student, and a parent of two college aged and one middle school child. I will comment first on pursuing a degree in something you may personally have to work hard at while others appear to be “naturals”. I started my education after a 14 year career in Law Enforcement ended in a disabling spine injury. I was, in my mind, math-deficient, yet I chose to pursue a degree in science. I worked my toosh off in math, starting at pre-algebra. It took hours of dedication and work on my part, while many of my classmates sailed through the courses. Not only did I finally catch on, I began to enjoy it.

    When the studies became more complex, in Physics and Calculus, many of the “naturals” floundered and were unable to cope with the lack of instantaneous perfection. I heard endless litanies of excuses for no longer pursuing degree choices; simply because many of them did not know how to deal with adversity and challenge.

    My degree choice changed from Marine Biology (my injuries limited my “want to” in the field) to Chemistry (course work I nearly aced my way through) to now Physics (course work I struggle the most with but absolutely love).

    We must all make the personal choice when love of and natural ability for don’t match up. If you have found your natural tendency, pursuing it allows for a “hedged” bet, so to speak, in future endeavors. I agree with Judge Josh strongly on this point. If your professors haven’t encouraged you to follow an alternate path; working hard for a degree in something you love will only serve you better in future employment. You are already familiar with the stress and struggle and what areas will require extra time and effort.

    My kids have heard many, many times. The only true failure in life is not trying. The only real regrets you will have in life come from true failure out of fear. Mistakes are mistakes, we all make them it is our individual jobs to learn from them.

    Now, to speak bluntly. If your parents co-signed on student loans, it is their responsibility to accept the risks along with the benefits of that decision. My hackles get all fried up when anyone, especially parents, try to force conformity based on their own personal choice. You give out of love not with pre-determined expectation. If you (as in your parents) cannot afford any negative downfall of such a loan, then it is one they shouldn’t have agreed to. But this is my take on things.

    If your academic goals are indeed unrealistic, your academic counselors and or professors would be the ones to give you the best feed back. Financially, you may want to speak to your student support services fo addtional campus resources available for students.

    As a side note:
    There might be additional resources (grants and scholarships) that you may not be aware of. I can tell you, as a female science student, there are many scholarship opportunities for women in the sciences (including computer science) posted at my university every year. Just a thought.

    Good luck!

  14. Wow, I’m going through the exact same thing- except with the added bonus that everyone thinks I’m an idiot for going to online college. My family doesn’t support me, either- but here is my sentiment on that:

    I want to do what makes me happy, not makes me money.

    If you feel the same way, go for it! If not, then maybe you should reconsider.

  15. No offense but while I was reading this letter it seemed to me that I was hearing a story about you and your enemies and not you and your parents.. lol… For reaaaaaaaaal girl! If you love it, then go for it… No matter what they say…. I’m 24 and I havent gone to college yet and not because I don’t want but because my situation is kinda complicated.

    However, I might get a scholarship… We’ll see….
    This world believes in you so, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND SMILE girl and send me a free ticket to watch an animated movie and see your name in the credits… I can’t wait to see your parents face if you win an OSCAR… ohhh yeahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! 🙂

  16. I have to say Yolanda and I are in the same boat. My parents said they will not pay for me to go to college although I’ve been accepted to several good ones already. In fact, i’m trying to find a job now, work and send me self to college. Don’t give up. Even if you don’t start in the semester you planned for. Just keep trying. It’ll work out for you.

  17. Lindsay,
    Computer Animation not a money-maker? WHAT? Maybe I’m biased because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, home of Silicon Valley and Pixar. These animated feature films are top hits in the box office (How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story for example). Even if you don’t make it into that industry, video games are also very big. More and more movies are coming out based on video games such as Prince of Persia. Even though California has been hit by the recession, the computer animation industry continues to reliably expand.
    I would say that there are at least two contributing reasons to your parent’s negativity about your major:

    1) Maybe due to their age, education, or simple lack of tech-sav they simply don’t understand your major or its prospects.
    When I try to explain my career to my older relatives they often get this glazed look in their eyes. What my family understands are the old-school success professions: doctor or lawyer. Maybe principal at a school. That is the extent of viable professions for them. (My family is working class: nursing assistants, bus drivers, chauffeur, data entry.)

    2) The area where they live. If they had neighbors or at least knew of people who made a living from computer animation I’m sure that would change their mind. In the San Francisco Bay Area it is very common. Japan is another great place. Other places, not so much. I would advise relocating after you graduate to the places where the industry is thriving.

    Other than that go to your major adviser and your campus career center and locate a mentor within the industry who can get you a leg up, as well as and internship in the field. They can ground you so that you can look outside of your parent’s opinions, which in my humble opinion, are not true.

  18. Eek, $100,000 in loans…dear lords, I’m scared to even think of that, lol! I say keep on truckin’ Yolanda and even if you don’t land a huge job at first, hey, it’ll be a tiny stepping stone to hopefully something bigger ^_^

    Now, to Judge Josh, YES, do speak on how to find jobs or internships in career fields!! I want to be a veterinarian and although I know that a good start would be to try to do some work at shelters perhaps, I have a feeling that it’s not that cut and dry. Most volunteers have probably been working with animals for quite awhile or owned livestock, while all I’ve owned were dogs and some cats (and for the most part, nearly all of those dogs were mutts, pit mixed with Labrador or something ((so sick of pits and labs…-_-“))

    Anywho, a post on this topic would be lovely. Thanks!

  19. DON’T QUIT!!! I am a 34 year old single mom. I finished my bachelors degree this year while working full time. I am now working on my Masters. It was a huge challenge but every time someone (like my mother or father) told me it was a waste of time, I used that as fuel to keep going. You can do the same. You will be amazed how proud you feel when you finish. I didn’t make all perfect scores and I didn’t get everything turned in on time. But none of that matters on graduation day. It matters even less when you hit the pavement to get a job. Hang in there. YOU CAN DO THIS!! Hang a sign where you can see it every day that says:
    Start, Focus, Finish
    For the race is not given to the swift,
    Nor the battle to the strong,
    But to the one who endures to the end.


  20. You called her “Lindsay” half-way through… where you say you’re starting not to like her mom and dad. just an FYI and feel free to take this down once you correct. I’m assuming that Yolanda was the name you meant to say 😉

  21. First, I think we need to set straight that parents are going to have their own ideas as to what is “best” for us and many times they’re going to be flat out wrong. Parents just want us to have it better than they did (that includes loving what we’re doing, and actually wanting to get up to go to work because it ignites a fire within you), and if you love Computer Animation, if you know that there’s nothing else you’d rather spend your life doing, then you’re not in anyway shape or form failing them. Some parents don’t understand the new workforce, especially when it comes to technological jobs, but my god Computer Animation? You’re right in the cusp of technology, you’re what is going to help change advertisements, animated films, what we see on our computer screens, the images we’ll have on our phones– our world is overflowing with images and you’ll be there shaping them. How can you be going wrong? Frankly, you’ll be failing them if you don’t go for it and if you continue to not believe in your abilities. They simply misunderstand what the new world holds.

  22. Charlotte Hyatt

    hYolanda you have to ‘stick to your guns’ and get your degree. You are to deep in debt to turn your back on your dream. Yes it’s hard, and your parents aren’t boosting your confidence level as they (in my opinion) should. It all comes down to your decision about your life.

    It took a lot of guts to go to college after taking a break but you should be proud of yourself for doing it, and for making it through two years of a demanding course of study. You are doing well because if you weren’t the professors would have told you. For your confidence level, you need to ask them how they see your chances in the field so you can hear the words out loud.

    Then maybe you will have the courage to tell your parents they are stressing you out and you are an independent, adult student and there is nothing but love tying you to them. Tell them they need to show their love for you by either supporting you emotionally or, at least not saying hurtful things to you about the course of life you have chosen. Don’t threaten them, but let them know that you will not be making daily calls anymore because you have to concentrate on your studies. Set up a weekly time to speak to them on when it’s convenient for you.

    They should know, but tell them there is nothing you can do about the loans except wait six months after graduation and start paying them back. The less stress you have on you, the better your grades will be, and the sooner you will get a high-paying job so you can pay the loans.

    In the meantime you need to work on your time management/budgeting skills so that at least by senior year you can get a job, or volunteer, to get some experience in any field to go on your resume. Be sure to post on LinkedIn and get references from your professors and other business people.

    You can do so much online with your computer skills. Even your own website, a comic book, a blog, etc.

    Stay strong and don’t be like me, I will be sixty (and very proud) when I receive my Bachelors in Business Administration and Management.

  23. Yolanda,
    Keep doing what you love; it’s worth it.

    You’ll get better every time; just keep on chugging at those animations and keep your head up high.

  24. I’m a science major. I kind of think most degrees in art are stupid and won’t get you anywhere, because I know lots of people that have them and are unemployed. But that said, I think the field Yolanda is going into is probably the best possible choice in art. Animation is still a really big field. Also, screw her parents! Do what you want.

  25. Well, here are my thoughts… Get that degree. Learn everything you can about your craft. Practice as much as possible, and tune your parents out. I don’t know what they’re trying to get out of humiliating and berating you. Maybe they’re just jealous or threatened by the possibility of your being successful. Maybe they want you to need them in some seriously problematic co-dependent way that you obviously don’t need them in. Whatever their issues, that’s all those are: their issues. Try not to let them become your issues (easier said than done).

    You’re 23, you’re well on your way to doing what you want to be doing with your life. Keep it up! And in as far as the loans are concerned, they are what they are. You made the choice of attending an expensive school — a choice I’ve made twice now, both for my BFA and for my MFA. I’ll be the first to admit, the monthly statements that tell me how much debt I’ve racked up make me feel a little sick, but I try not to focus on the negative. I’ll find a way of paying it off once I’ve graduated, and so will you.

    I do have to tell you that networking and internships are important in securing a job down the line, so take a little break from your animating and head-banging to get to know your classmates, put in some time at an internship, and go to some of those recruiter presentations. Schedule your life so you’re managing your time wisely. Find balance. On that note, cut back on the amount of time you spend talking to your parents. It might be worth telling them that you’ve made up your mind about your career, and you need them to stop with the detrimental remarks or you’ll have to stop talking to them as much. Or maybe confronting them isn’t the best move. Up to you to decide, since you know them, and I don’t.

    I think it would definitely be worth your time to talk to a therapist about your self-esteem and how to handle their destructive behavior. Self-confidence is important to landing a job and keeping it, not to mention living a happy life, and with parents like yours, you probably don’t confidence as much as people with supportive, nurturing parents do. The good news is, expensive art schools usually have access to pretty great therapists on the cheap for students with the school’s health insurance. Take advantage of that, and take care of yourself. Your work won’t improve if you run yourself into the ground and don’t take care of yourself.

    Your parents are adults, and they should learn to deal with their problems and regrets without dragging you down into their mess. Whether or not they’re willing to change is not your problem. All you can do is change how you deal with their b.s. When it comes down to it, it’s your life, not your parents’. You and your dreams come first.

  26. me and about 7 other people in the world don’t believe in you. get out now before you ruin your family’s life and make them live in a car.

  27. Yuna: what a perfect response! I wish you all the best, too!

    Please don’t quit now. You’re a junior already, for goodness sake. Judge Josh is right – you still owe the money, so it’s really pointless to quit now.

    Tell your parents that ANY four year degree will help you find a job.
    Your professors and/or your grades will tell you if you cannot do this. Responsible professors will very gently help you realize you are not cut out for this if that is the case – if they haven’t told you you need to look at other options, you’re doing fine. I’ve even gone so far as to just ask them – am I good enough to pursue this?

    It’s really, really hard to be in art school to begin with – scary, hard, lots of work…it’s easy to doubt yourself a lot. When you get no support it’s that much worse. When people you love and respect tell you you need to stop, it will feel impossible. But you are already in it, you’re doing it, and you’re not failing, so you should hang with it.

    If you can, seek the support of your classmates. They can help you to improve your work, too. I never knew how good I was til other people started asking me for help, and that can happen for you, too.

    Please don’t give up. You’re nearly there.

  28. Honestly, I can tell you guys to follow your heart. My degree is in African Studies. People always told me that I couldn’t do anything with it but I am building a solid education background to go with it. Follow your passions and if people can’t get with that, it’s their problem not yours.

  29. I haven’t read the comments, since I’m in the middle of studying for a big exam, but I wanted to weigh in a bit here, by giving an example (albeit a really, really truncated one since I’m probably the only one here who finds the entirety of this story interesting).

    Gauss grew up dirt poor, during a period in history where only the wealthy had access to higher education. Despite his poor upbringing, he was able to secure financing for his education (in the form of a stipend, which isn’t the same as loans but which performs the same function), and he worked hard and went on to become one of the most influential mathematicians/scientists who ever lived; one who shaped the entire future of many fields of math and science. And he did this during a time where not only was education exclusive to the wealthy, but during a period where science and math were basically treated as hobbies rather than as subjects of truly serious study. He also did this without parental support of any measurable nature.

    This doesn’t mean you’re going to be some crazy famous animation person, but it doesn’t mean you won’t, either. It just means that you don’t need your family’s support to succeed – you need drive, which you clearly have, and a solid work ethic (which you also clearly have). There are loads of examples of people who rise above the situation they were born into, without the support of those around them. You’re trying to be one of those examples and you shouldn’t stop.

    Don’t listen to them. Listening to your parents dooms you to the same levels of poverty (judging from your statement that they’re not “even middle class”) they’ve experienced, which is something you’re obviously putting a lot of effort into rising above.

  30. I don’t usually comment on this site, but this time I can’t resist. I’m in a similar position – in college studying music. I’m a senior: nearly done, so help me I WILL graduate with a degree in my chosen field. But good jobs in music are hard to snag, and more than one person has hinted that I am a bit lacking in talent. (Not parents, fortunately.)
    Take heart, Yolanda – you can do it. When I applied for admittance, my future advisor told me there was no way I could get a degree in music performance and recommended education instead. He told me that there were three more large auditions I must pass to get a degree in performance (two recital auditions and upper-division standing) and I didn’t have what it took to pass them. And guess what? A year later, I did switch to performance and now I’ve passed two of the three auditions. This fall, I will put on my senior recital, and unless a serious disaster happens, I will pass that too.
    Yolanda – don’t give up just because some idiots tell you you have no talent. (If you’ll pardon my calling your parents idiots…) Perseverance is what counts anyway.

  31. It seems to me that Yolanda’s doubts about her abilities are only there because of mom and dad’s lack of support. So Yolanda, stop doubting yourself! You said multiple times that you LOVE it, that is reason enough to carry on and enjoy the rest of your college experience. Sure it wont be a piece of cake but like Judge Josh said, having a career + student loans > student loans with nothing to show for it.

    For starters, I would say try and find yourself an on campus job that you work around 10 hours/week, at least then you can start chipping away at that looming 100K. Plus, that will give you some good work experience, especially if you can find a job relating to your field of study. As for transportation, I’m guessing your parents put up the same one my mother did. “If you go to school out of state how will we EVER see you?” To me that was a no brainer, not so much to her. Yolanda, you’ve already done two years at your school! So however you managed those years transportation-wise, you can do it again. As for your “failures” causing your family to crumble, give yourself a break! It’s not up to you to cure cancer, get a degree, AND hold the family together financially.

    Overall, be proud of yourself for going to college! Many people do not follow through after a post-HS break, that shows you are already a hardworker! Also, you should pat yourself on the back for choosing an in-demand field. Right now what I think you need to focus on is 1. get that part-time job 2. start making contacts in your field! Really get to know your professors and work hard, you’ll need those references later on 3. Be straight with M & D, tell them that this is what you LOVE and that you’ve worked too hard to give up that easily 4. Start brushing up some more on your weaker points before classes start, keep learning outside of the classroom.

    Good luck Yolanda!

  32. @Marie: Crap, I was mixing her up with yesterday’s post! You have no idea how often I do that — usually I catch it, though, before I publish. Thanks!

  33. Hey Yolanda. I’m almost in the same boat, I’m 27 still finishing my second degree and unemployed at the moment. Although my parents are usually supportive they haven been terribly supportive lately. I still have to get through undergrad and then I’m going to law school. Bottom line at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me who says what or who supports me or not. I see my dream and I’m that much closer to it. My aunt told me before you can achieve it you must conceive it you have to see yourself there. And that sometimes means tuning out the people you love most I.e. Your parents. This is your dream and u are soooooo close don’t let anyone trash that parents or not. Hang in there you can do it you already have begun. I know sometimes you may get down on yourself I’m a senior and my college career is lasting much longer than what intended but failure is not an option. And I say the same to you you’ve come too far and you owe too much money to give up, failure is not an option!!!

  34. Speaking as a parent of three kids in college: one about to graduate and wants to go to med school, one in engineering and one just entering, planning on nursing…..

    We have always tried to encourage our kids’ “artsy” sides and provided tons of materials for artistic expression while they were growing up. My husband is very artistic and helped quite a bit when they were growing up. We also provided programs for them to learn computer design.

    That said, we also stressed that college ‘now-a-days’ isn’t what it is was just a few short decades ago, when getting a degree (any degree) was the goal, and that degree got you a good job upon graduation.

    Now, I think college is becoming more and more a place where you go to be trained in a specific career. As a parent paying for 12 plus years of college, I want their educations to serve them well when they graduate and are out on their own, making a living and paying their own way.

    Many subjects can be learned by routes other than at a university, but some careers really do need that university education. We never wanted to be that family that has their grown children coming back home because after 4 or more years of college, they couldn’t find a job in their field. That is not a situation that benefits anyone, especially the grown children.

    I feel that spending money at a university on subjects that can be learned through continuing education, private lessons or by reading about the subject and self-study, may not be the best way to spend our education dollars.

    So, I can see this from both sides of the coin. This site usually frowns upon so much debt for education. First off, Yolanda needs to go to school in her state of residence to cut down on out of state tuition. Second, I think she should consider going to school part-time and trying to find work somewhere in or around the computer graphics industry. Even if she can’t work in that field, she needs to work to pay down the loans…right now.

    I would also advise her to consider getting her degree in something she will be able to find work in and continue the computer graphics as a minor or as a second degree once she had graduated with the first degree.

    I admit I don’t know much about the computer graphics industry, but it seems like a difficult one to get into and be successful at (not impossible, but difficult). Why not get an education degree, get the courses she needs in computer graphics/computer technology and teach computer graphics? She can work on the full-fledged computer graphics degree with night, weekend and online course work while paying off the student loans.

    Plus, there are programs that will pay back the student loans for teaching in high need areas. (Same for nursing, by the way.)

  35. Oh yes and please excuse fhe run-on paragraph without punctuation and minimal spelling errors, I’m posting from a phone and wanted to do it quickly. :-p

  36. I relate to your situation 100%. I’m 43 with 3 semesters to go to earn my bachelors. My dad says “You need to learn a trade. You can’t eat that piece of paper (diploma).” Well, layoffs are effecting everyone now.

    I started University right after high school (entirely self-supporting), mom passed away at the end of freshman year, I failed out, transferred to an academic associate degree tech school, failed out, got a work visa in Europe & spent 3 years working/having fun, decided I wanted to be a pilot (now that’s crazy), went in the military for two tours to earn the GI Bill, bought my first car at age 30 – after touring 23 countries in Europe and Asia, started at an aerospace university (even the state schools for flying are super expensive and they can use the GI Bill at the front of your financial aid pkg before giving you the good scholarships and grants so it doesn’t really help) and am working a semester or two- then attending for a semester. I live 700 miles from home, no relatives call or visit, so I call Dad every Sunday unless he’s getting verbally aggressive about my life and give him a few months to cool off. I have over $100k in loans, and retirement looming at age 67 so I have less than 25 years to pay off school and save for retirement. Ouch.

    Do what you love (computers and cartooning, etc). Find ways to start working small jobs for companies/agencies/local newspapers/zines. Contact people nationwide & stay in touch. It’s not just who you know, but who knows you. If the subject comes up, let them know you’re working your way through school. Don’t whine about it.
    A friend of mine (we worked as gas station cashiers to put ourselves through school) graduated in cartooning. She has a well-paying job at the local hospital to pay off those student loans (that degree opens lots of doors) and does her cartooning on the side for different small jobs. Keep your mind open to all jobs – those computer skills apply to everything! Do consulting, offer samples of work, contact media agencies, have a brainstorming session and follow through. Even volunteer work counts as experience – it’s just unpaid. Offer to do clips for the local sports groups, any mom & pop business with tv commercials, etc. You have to reach out to everyone & make connections. I don’t think “6 degrees of separtation” applies anymore with computer social networking capabilities. Where I live is a fairly small town (50,000) in a rural state, so it’s 1 or 2 degrees of separation.
    Your parents comments about going to college to have a career is a pride issue for them, not you. That should carry about 10 % of the weight, considering you got yourself into a baccalaureate program- your peers, college staff (profs, advisor, etc), and contacts in the industry should be your biggest influences. Stand up for what you believe in.
    Remember to give yourself credit for what you’re accomplishing. If you’re like me, my family doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, just got caller id a couple of years ago, doesn’t have a DVD player, hate their cell phone & never use it, etc. So I get no positive emotional/psychological support from home. At least you’ll approach the job market with humility because noboby likes a stuck-up overconfident jerk. Along with that, learn how to toot your horn about each project and step you’ve accomplished. Go to your local Job Service office and use the resources to start building your resume & cover letter. There are some great programs that describe each task with verbage that makes you sound like a superhero.

    Be prepared with plans a, b, and c. I’m on plan b (fom commercial pilot to airport mgmt) and looking at another degree from a rival school for plan c.

    You are NOT responsible for your family’s financial situation. You’re the kid, not the parent, remember? Why aren’t they spending time setting you up for success by trying to find scholarships for you, and bragging about you to colleagues to help establish contacts??? (The only time I found out my dad approved of my military career & how proud he was of me, was from an old family friend -after I got out of the military & shortly before the friend passed away.) If your family didn’t before (and aren’t now) putting time, energy, and money into you (you are part of the family), then where else are they putting it? I think you’re their best future resource! Who’s going to take care of them in 20 years? It should go without saying, but obviously it will be you and you may be doing it by yourself.
    We all make mistakes. I bounced a check once. I recovered and my bank account is positive now. One day I spent $5 on a snack instead of eating at home. I’m not starving to death because of it. Look at the big picture, so the little stuff doesn’t scare you or weigh you down.
    You can make it, and I think you’ll make it big. Keep working!

  37. It sounds like your perseverance is extraordinary. What a great quality to possess! If you continue with your determination and newfound commitment, you will surely succeed at whatever you put your mind to. Keep in mind that you are the person responsible for your future, not your parents.
    That being said, the debt that your family has incurred is pretty substantial. Since we don’t know exactly what type of loans you have, it is hard to comment on the financial part. I would look into the reality of the length of time it will take to pay off the loans, using the average salary of a graduate with your chosen degree. How much of the debt is yours and how much of it belongs to your parents? Once you have a workable plan to pay your debts, you will feel more free to follow “your” dreams, without being at the mercy of your parents.
    @ Josh
    “How to make connections and get work experience while you’re still in college.” Yes, yes, yes. I would like information on that subject!

  38. I think you first need to find some confidence and stop looking to your insupportive parents. Show more initiative to your instructors and seek their advice. Find a classmate to befriend and work with them. Go to the financial aid director and see if there is anything else out there for you. Make atleast one of these moves toward the better and you’ll start feeling better. Good luck.

  39. College graduate with no support

    First off, let me say that you CAN do this. I didn’t know that I wanted to go to college until I was 16 years old. I had grown up thinking that college was only for middle-class and upper-class white Americans (which I certainly was not!). I was dead-set on going into the military because I seriously thought that it was the only way to get out of small-town America. Man could I have not been more wrong! So I decided to apply for, in my opinion, one of the most selective schools in the area. I got accepted, but then I had to tell my mom. Her first thought was “How are we going to pay for this?” I already knew what my dad would say (“You are not going to that school, you’re going to a state school.”), but because he wasn’t really in my life, it was easy to ignore. I’ve actually graduated from college (after 5 1/2 years) and some day, you’re going to do the same, but only if you can ignore what everyone in your family thinks.

  40. This is a note to Josh and the pre-vet student on internships for pre-professional stuff:

    I am in vet school. Get a part-time job as a kennel tech, work in a pet store, get research experience at a University (paid or not, this is a big one), volunteer at a zoo or wildlife park, volunteer at the shelter, help out with 4H projects if you live in a rural area, start a pet-sitting business, work at an animal-cruelty hotline, train horses or dogs. Most importantly, shadow or work for veterinarians. They write your recommendation letters and they know what it takes to not only get in to vet school, but to actually be a vet. I know someone who has done each of these things, I have done almost all of them (except the hotline and the training).

    I could have really used that list when I was in high school and undergrad. Instead I sort-of stumbled through it after getting my BS. As a result, I’m a bit older than most of the people in my class. But hey, I made it here eventually and now I know what I’m getting into!

    PS-better late than never and sometimes hard work is better than natural aptitude

  41. Yolanda,
    My parents were immigrants who told me that I needed marriage, not an education.
    In a few weeks I will start the last semester of my BA in accounting and I have learned that it’s difficult to get through any program. The second two years are more difficult than the first so continue the hard work. It WILL pay off. I have also learned that we all inevitably question ourselves and our choices, especially near the end. The best support you will receive will be from your peers and your professors. Connect with them regularly and finish what you’ve started.
    You can do it.

  42. I would love to have an article created on “How to make connections and get work experience while you’re still in college”. Specifically struggling with such right now. 🙂

  43. First off, you need to stock up on your favorite sweet: ice cream, chocolate, jello…or whatever is your absolute favorite!! Trust me, you will need it when you are feeling down or inconfident. (Also comes in handy on those late nights when you think there is absolutely no way this project will get done on time.)

    You can do this. You know you can. Tell your parents that you have decided on this career and that they should attempt/pretend to be more supportive (like you haven’t done that already though). Also, look at all of the animated stuff out there. Never let them tell you that you can’t do this. You are in a continuingly growing career choice. Try to help them understand that.


    These are just a few suggestions I have. I wish you the best of luck! 🙂

  44. Well I had a step mother who didnt support me at all. It was the time when my mother passed and when I needed a mother figure the most. It did affect me but after a while I took all that negativity and made it into my motivation. Hang in there and prove them wrong. If computer animation is what you really want to do and you’re going on the right path, I say do what you have to do and do what’s best for you=-)

  45. Yolanda said: “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.”
    I am an art student (and Psychology, too), and that statement of yours is so beautiful and honest, that I couldn’t have say it better. I feel exactly the same way when I am painting or drawing. The feeling of doing what you love the most cannot even be exchange for money (or for a career that could make you rich, for that matter). Since I knew that just art wouldn’t help me in the money part, I double major in Psychology to have a plan B (actually, Psy was my major already, and i changed my art minor to a major, because I simply love it!). I am also getting a Chinese Mandarin minor as a plan C, just in case i might need it. You could also do a side minor, or a major in something else, to be more secure and have more options (beside the great idea of getting an internship ASAP, it looks like you are not taking full advantage of your loans and opportunities.)
    About your parents, umm… did you write that email at a moment of anger?, this sounds just so not.. real, lol… My parents support me in everything I’m doing, but I know that (at least my dad) if I have taken only art, they would be like “Great, you have talent, so now what?”… That’s why I pay my own school to the last penny, it feels so good not owing anything to no one.
    Good luck girl! And have more faith in yourself, from an artist to another, use your strong feelings to create more art, not to stop yourself.

  46. Yolanda,

    You are hardly the “older student.” I am 42 going to college full time, for the first time! The gal I sat next to in Writing 101 this summer was from the class of ’10, and she taught me how to cut and paste this June. I have not sat at a computer since DOS was the prevelant language (don’t ask if you don’t know).

    DO NOT let your family get to you. The choices you made are yours, and you will get through them…maybe a little wiser, after you follow through, though! If I followed all the well intentioned (maybe) advice my parents gave me, I would have missed out on a great marriage (10 years so far), and numerous other opportunities. Just know they love you, even if it is not evident now. Focus on getting your education.

    In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, ever, ever, ever give up!


  47. I know this scenario because it happens to at least half or more of the students that go to college. Not to mention having debt on top of that just makes it worse. It’s a bummer. Plus, there is no promise of success after college. Yes, all of these things are true. However, its good to look past the bullshit and see the success before your eyes. Go for something with that all or nothing attitude. Don’t half ass it. If you do this with you education now, it will show your parents that you are worth every bit of that debt. Plus, it was your idea to take this burden on yourself with the debt and the different major and career choice. But thats okay really. You showed that you knew what you wanted(or at least thought you did) and went for it. This life is no promise. Just know that if you try, it was worth every breath and every struggle.

  48. Yolanda,
    There is much good advice and support already said above. I would like to add a brief comment, a link, a few statistics, and a request.

    First, your education is the foundation you will spring from. It is the first major launching pad. Your degree will be in the arts, which it sounds like you love, and there are also jobs that will open for you that are indirectly related, but still within the arts. I would also start now to develop your “niche”… this is simply a creative slant to focus your attention on pairing your new skills with some other interest. Animation is storytelling, so what kinds of stories do you want to tell? For instance, if you love children, perhaps you can imagine yourself animating your own children’s stories, or create your own set of characters. If you are a social justice junkie, like me, you could animate a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about some issue you would like to advocate for. Or, if you’ve always been interested in sports, you could tailor your assigments to that market. This will build your portfolio with a richness and specialty that might get you the perfect job for you later. It’s not a race.

    This link is Will Smith talking about determination. He says “there is no reason to have a plan B, because it distracts from plan A!”

    I also think you should surround yourself with artists who are committed to their craft. Artists of ANY kind share a unique bond. Furthermore, as you build an arts circle, you will find many more opportunities for collaboration. You’ll meed a jazz musician who always wanted to animate one of his songs, but heck! he knows nothing about how to do it. Or a dancer wants you to animate her signature choreography move for her new website. These are things you can begin to try in finding your niche, but more importantly it will give you an amazing support group. I’ve been talking to my arts friends about this very thing earlier this very day… It is SOOO hard in the beginning when you don’t come from an arts family! Many parents are in fear, and their worry becomes paramount. Just keep looking all around you. ART IS EVERYWHERE. And people ARE making money with it. As long as what you can do can support anything people are doing on the internet, you will have work waiting for you. The elite might go work for Disney (who then owns you, btw), but you could build a strong company helping people advertise their products, services, and ideas, or become a filmmaker and animate for yourself. Life is trade-offs. Personally, I’d rather live under a bridge and be an artist, than live otherwise…. but with the internet, the arts are available to everyone and anyone can get their stuff out there. Start a youtube channel and let the world see your stuff!

    Check out
    Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. At their site you can find reports and statistics on how BIG of an impact the arts has on local and national economies.

    Do what you love. And feel free to contact me! I’d love to know more about you.

  49. @ Lindsey,

    Forgive my ignorance, but is that even legal???

    If they cut you off completely, you are no longer a “dependent” in any sense of that term. Are they allowed to claim you as a dependent in their tax returns? And if they still do, would it be possible to break away completely and declare yourself an independent and disavow their claims?

    Early thanks for helping to clear my confusion!

  50. Hi Yolanda,
    My family told me all my life that I would never amount to anything. That’s hard stuff to hear and is very damaging to a persons confidence. I never went to college because I believed that lie. I am now 48(almost 49) and have just completed 3 years of college. I have one more to go. Dont let ANY one tell you that you can’t do it!! I have told my kids the two words they were not allowed to use were “I can’t”. You do it!! Go out there and show them you CAN make it!

  51. @Jason,
    No it’s actually not legal, I know, but I looked into it and there really wasn’t much I could do at the time. At this time, I have finally gotten myself declared as an independent and can now receive appropriate financial aid for grad school this fall.

  52. Yolanda,

    If your parents would like a well-presented arugment on why you are most certainly NOT a failure (because you aren’t – you haven’t started yet, how could you possibly have failed?), here’s a great video about comparing a life in the arts to Pixar animation studios.

  53. It sounds like your parents suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I know all there is to know about it since both of my parents and my in-laws have it. You might want to consider reading the book ‘Toxic Parents’ and ‘Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You’ by Susan Forward. These books have drastically changed our lives. Be prepared for an eye opening experience. I hate to be the one to tell you this but if that is the disorder they have, you will never meet their expectations. That is something you will have to come to terms with. There will always be hoops you will have to jump through for them but it won’t mean a thing because they will always extend that finish line further ahead.

    Your parents sound exactly like my husband’s. They want him to be rich and famous. Because he chose a different path from what they wanted(he didn’t become a teacher like they wanted and he married me), they have shunned him out of the family. He eventually discovered that they do not truly love him. It is very difficult for him because they have brain-washed him into only being happy when he attains fame and riches. If he doesn’t have those things, he falls apart. It’s very self destructive. It will take years of therapy to fill this hole in his life. I truly feel sorry for what they have put you through.

  54. Wow, it’s amazing how many people are ready and willing to jump on the hate the parents wagon! Agreeing and reinforcing that you don’t have ideal parents is not what you need to hear right now. If your parents are telling you you aren’t very good at this, ask yourself why? If they have been loving and supportive of you until recently what changed? If the negativity has always been there learn to read their concern for you in it. I hear your concerned about not keeping up and your determination to succeed, both are good things to have and it will keep you honest with yourself, about your talent and skills.

    I have a negative mom, the glass isn’t just half empty it’s half gone!!! She’s also quite dramatic. Years ago I decided to make peace with it. In her negativity, I hear concern and fear. She worked to provide for me. She kept me clean, fed and cared for during my formative years. It was her way of showing love—she is not a demonstrative person plus she knows how hard life can be. Sometimes that knowledge pulls them down and they inadvertently pass it on in hurtful remarks they don’t know how to take back.

    But, back to your folks, why are they so vocal in your financial matters? If they don’t have a vested interest such as paying for your student loans, then don’t tell them about it. However, if indeed they support you in some way, how can you assuage their fears? Parents generally want to believe their kids. Tell them what your earning potential can be. Perhaps show them something you have done or an article about Interactive Media. Tell them the gaming industry does more for our economy than Hollywood. Impress them! Otherwise don’t engage it and learn to empower yourself by moving to a more manageable topic.

    My son is an Interactive Media student as well and I’m not a fan of video games. He knows this. Once I hurled a gaming system out my back door to demonstrate my level of disapproval in the behavior choices my two sons made. I apologized for my actions, but did not replace the system—they had to with their allowances. By the same token I sent him to Iam camp at 13 because it was something he dreamed about doing. After his first year in college he came home and demonstrated a game he designed and wrote the code. I saw the beauty in his choice of art media…I am still not a fan of video games, but recognize the media offers more than shooter games and I believe in him. I hope your folks just want to believe in you and are letting fear cloud their actions. Good luck!

  55. I would like to find out some information about how to network while in school because I keep hearing this buzzword all the time, but really do not know how to put it into action. I’m a nursing major if that helps any. I don’t want to be like my aunt, who is a teacher, who is having problems networking over 20 years later.

    As for the poster: man that is a tough situation. I can’t really offer any advice since my mom is pretty supportive. However, like josh said, if the loans are all under your belt, then why should they be complaining? It is YOUR life. It is not like they are going to be sitting there, hoping you get a job so they can get handouts (at least I hope not). You’ve made it this far and are showing determination, so I think you have it under control. If you put forth the same determination as you do in school you have a heads up in the game as a go-getter.

  56. Hey Yolanda, you have come a long way. Most people who don’t go to college right away, never do, and you have done really well. I know people who still don’t know what they want to be when they “grow up” who are in their 60’s (my dad is one of them). You are better off in that respect than a lot of other people. You are NOT a failure, and it is time you started believing that.

    That being said, I have some advice that you can use to prove your parents wrong and shut them up. I am not an artist, I am an Aerospace Engineer, so this advice comes from inside knowledge about the engineering world:

    Any engineering program worth its salt will compete in national engineering competitions and have a senior design project that will be publicized in the engineering world. Why do you care? Because the projects that have an “artist’s rendering” included are much more likely to win. Engineering students are always looking for animation students willing to put in some time to model their design. It helps them ensure their design is practical, constructible, and will function like intended.

    So how would this benefit you? I mean it is a lot of long hours and sleepless nights to design an artist’s rendering for an ever-changing design. But I think you will agree that the benefits, once I finish explaining them, will vastly outweigh the sleepless nights.

    Your name will be the only one on the artist’s rendering, and will be displayed at national engineering conferences. What most people don’t realize is that Disney, Pixar, and NASA use these events to scout for artists delivering awesome animation. Every animator that has done a rendering for us in the past was picked up by one of those 3 companies (and a few companies that are less well-known) for a paid summer internship before their senior year of school (most of our animators were either juniors or sophomores working on animation degrees), and all but one got an animation job straight out of college (the one who didn’t get the job turned it down for grad school).

    Try to work for/with an engineering group which intends to compete/ broadcast their design and you could land the job of your dreams straight out of college. And even if you don’t, it will get you some good press and a larger network of contacts. It is a great networking opportunity that most artists don’t take advantage of, and it will make you stand out from the pack. So build up your portfolio, and dive in. Good luck, I hope this helps… and I think it is time to start ignoring your parent’s guilt trips, and prove that they are wrong.

  57. Yolanda,
    Do what feels right in your heart. Some day when you are older you will realize that all of these people who like to tell us what we should be doing don’t really know anything at all. Just make sure this is something that you do love and you are not trying to convince yourself that you love it. Good luck to you!

  58. Old coot popping up with the voice of experience. I am 44 and will be graduating with my associates in February next year. Not because I didn’t want an education at the usual age, but insurmountable conditions that made a higher education impossible.

    I hear about parents talking garbage and I get really angry. I still hear the voices of my past.

    As hard as it is, you can not listen to the negative talk. Whatever stress they have, it’s on them. You can’t let them bring you in the middle of their problems.

    I would start applying for intern programs. Do your homework, who are the leaders in the industry you want to work? Start applying for intern programs, summer jobs, etc. See what kind of professional organizations are in your field and start going to meet and greets. Go to Staples and get some business card paper. Hand out your contact information. Go to Linked In and start a professional profile. How about freelancing while in school on some projects? It can earn you some money to pay down the debt and get you the experience.

    You need to create a plan to get into the “professional circles” and get the experience under your belt. A career center at your school may have some suggestions and help you out and give you ideas and help you come up with that plan.

  59. I hear you! I’m in a similar situation myself. I’m 23 now and my parents refuse to cosign any loans for me and besides funding some community college art supplies haven’t financially been supporting my education. Before I came over 1,000 miles across the country to study my dad gave me a lecture on how I would fail. Sometimes when no one has faith in your abilities, you have to ignore the nay-sayers and follow your passion. Like the author wrote, we’re in huge debt so might as well finish studying our degree at this point. In school (art school especially), there’s always going to be at least a few kids who seem like a prodigal child of animation but who knows how long they’ve been working at it? In my experience thus far some kids have years of modeling/animating experience on me. I may not have the level of stuff I’d like yet but seeing better people only gives me something to aspire to and figure out what my own strengths/weaknesses are.

    In animation, practice really does get you closer to perfect and its not the kids with the most raw talent but the people who put the most effort forth that show the highest improvement. Whenever I want to get inspired I watch a CG movie and tell myself that I will be doing that someday.

  60. Yolanda,
    Seems that everyone has spoken about the same things, and offered some pretty good advice. So I’ll be short.

    1. The debt, though large, is yours and you need to accept that. Whether you stick with your major or not you will still have it, and need to pay it off.
    2. I have a family that is negative as well, but have decided to heck with them. I am going to finiah my education and go on with my life. They can either get behind me on that or hit the bricks. You’re over 21 so you don’t have to be around them if you don’t want. So let them know that if they can not keep their hostility to themselves you would prefer they stayed home and let you be. Hard I know but it will save you stress and keep from pulling your focus away from your goal.
    3. Make friends with your professors. They can write recommendation letters and let you know of internships and job opportunities that fit your skill level. Thus, getting you some experience and possibly a job.
    4. Go talk to your financial iad advisor. They can help you budget now and later. They may also help you find grants/scholarships that suit you to help get you some funds to pay down some of the debt right now. That way it won’t be the whole $100K to payback when you graduate.
    5. Check with your schools business department. They usually have advising on job hunting, resueme writing, and job offers in all kinds of fields. They can help you design your resueme and give you advice on interviewing and such.
    6. Find a mentor/friend that is also in your program of study and help each other with the stress part of things. Trying to hang in there without any support is very hard. Having at least one person that can relate to the challenges and can help cheer you when you have a bad day will help your spirits.

    You are half way there. You can do this. Just think how proud you are going to be once you finish and land a job when you tell your folks you did it:) Nothing silences your detractors faster then success. SO go ahead and do it and see what they say then.

  61. Ann… You did NOT endear yourself to anyone on this website by describing that temper tantrum of yours. Shame on you for throwing it, and double the shame for blaming it on your children and forcing them to replace something of theirs YOU destroyed.

    As for Yolanda: Honey, IGNORE YOUR PARENTS. They are psychic vampires, sucking out every happy feeling you have about your career choice. I know it’s hard because they’re your parents and you want their approval, but they’re obviously not going to give it. Seek approval from the people who actually care about your happiness: Your friends.

  62. I’ve thought about going into 3D animation at some point, but not at a brick-and-mortar school by any stretch. Animation Mentor would be my choice, based on how it ‘looks’— cost is reasonable ($18k overall), the instructors knowledgeble (they work in the industry), and the knowledge useful (the 18-month course finishes with a demo real and diploma).

    So, you’re going into your junior year. That means that you won’t be in the field for 2 years and it’ll cost you. Big time.

    Play with it; if 3D animation is where you’re headed, you have to like, no, love, it. And know it inside and out.


  63. Hi there,

    PLEASE, follow your dreams. I’ve been following my parent’s dreams for the past 25 years. Then one day I realized that I had one life to live and that was my own. Do what feels good in your heart. Trust me, you don’t want to be 50, looking back at your life and wondering what life would have been like if you had continued on your current career path.

    We all love our parents (well most of us do), but remember at the end of the day it’s your life! 🙂


  64. this is all well and good but when most of you find out your dream “did not work”,,, dont go back to your parents for them to foot the bills you ran up chasing it. also, remember this,,,, “everyone DOES NOT get a trophy”,,,, your parents are older,,, been there, done that and are trying to help,,,,,, some of you ( try reading your statements ) seem to think your smarter.

  65. Hang in there! I know how you feel, my mom has yet to stop making cutting remarks about my chosen major. Sometime you just gotta ignore your parents,. But, you do need to work your ass off – which it sounds like you’re doing. I really have nothing particularly useful to offer, but good luck!
    And Judge Josh, that post on connections and work experience would be amazing!

  66. You’re computer animation and they think you win’t make any money? that makes no sense. Anything involving computers, especially animation, is bound to get you a lot of money.

  67. I’m kind of going through the same thing…

    I gave up college because my mom is always on me about “being able to afford things.” I can’t go out shopping because for some reason all of my money has to go towards my car. I realized that I wouldn’t have my car payed off by the time I have to leave and she said if I didn’t pay it off it didn’t go with me…so I gave up my dream.

    On top of that she’s constantly reminding me that the field I’m going to study in community college isn’t going to get me a good job. I realize this…and the past four years of my theatre program have prepared me for living on an artist’s paycheck.

    All I can say is prove them wrong…prove everyone wrong. Every day i astound people with my raw talent, but you have to have a lot more than talent to succeed in life and you’ve got what it takes.


  68. Yolanda,

    I am 39 years old and right after I graduated from High Scool I wanted to go to scool to be a teacher. I had no support system at all. My parents always told me I was to stupid to go to collage. I finally went when I was 28 and my parents said I was stupid then and being that I was trying to please them and not my self I quit. I am now back in school this time I will finish. I have a great support system this time. I have completed my first year with a 3.8 GPA. I have 3 kids and I have always told them live your dream go to school and get an education but go to Collage to do what you Love. I will tell you the same thing. If you love art then do it. There are to many Americans doing job they hate and not alot doing what they Love. Good Luck in your Studys and remember to surround your self with those who want you to suceed. Keep going girl dont fall in to the you can not do it trap. Because you sound bright and willing to complete this degree. SO GO FOR IT. Never know you might be the next Walt Disney.

  69. Judge Josh, PLEASE do a post on making work connections and experience stuff for college/high school students…even if it’s just general information and advice, not specific to a certain field, I know a lot of people who could use some help in this area. Thanks for all that you do!

  70. Yolanda, I had to deal with this near exact thing in college. I went to school to study costume design and was told at every turn that I was not good enough, that I didn’t know what I was doing, and this would never make me money. My parents and I got into screaming fits because of the stress their negativity was causing me. However, whenever they needed to brag to someone about something, they’d brag about me, my college choice, and how good I am doing. I couldn’t even get a job doing work experience in college because they refused to help me with lodging or transport. I often had to hawk my possessions for gas to get to school, including my guitar. After I graduated I was pressured to get out, to get a job in the profession, and I wasn’t allowed to do freelance, but every time I tried to find a job, I was not helped, and sometimes even hindered by their efforts, i.e. not being able to use the computer to send out resumes because they didn’t want me to waste time on the internet. If this is a career YOU want, YOU need to make it happen. Your parents obviously are not going to support you, and it’s not so much that you need to prove them wrong, but you need to prove that you’re right. Grab your life by the horns and get going. I graduated and got saddled with all the debt despite them promising to pay for the college if I still lived at home, and am now a successful, full time, paid employee at a Halloween costume company making $60K+ a year, much more than any of my siblings or cousins. If you want that kind of success, you have to WANT it. When they put those doubts into your head, you tell them not to worry, you will MAKE it happen. Don’t let them get your goat. I know they are your parents and they are the two people in the world who should have your back no matter what, but sometimes, you have to have your own back and turn away from their narcissistic family model.

  71. Going to college to learn animation? Pfft…I learned how to animate on Flash CS5 for free. Pirated the software and googled tutorials on YouTube. I even learned 3D animation for free by using Blender 3D. Most, if not all creative professions do not require you to go to an expensive school to learn how to do it. Thanks to the internet, all the tools are made available for free.

  72. How to make connections and get work experience while you’re still in college

    Very interested in this subject for myself and my college age kids.

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