Courtney listens to other people too much, and herself not enough. There you go — that’s the one-sentence summary of today’s post for all you ADHD types out there.
Read on if you want the details on Courtney’s situation, which is both cautionary and inspirational. She dearly loves fashion design, but reasons NOT to pursue it keep popping up here and there. Time to slash ’em all, I say, and get on with what she’s wanted to do most of her life.
I have been wanting to write you for weeks but I have a hard time admitting I need help-so right off the bat you know its bad. I’ve always known I was supposed to go to college, graduate with a bachelors etc etc. I’ve also always known that I love fashion and want to be paid to work in fashion.
Sounds ok so far.
I grew up in a really, really little town and went to a really, really highschool. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer after a couple years in 4-H.
Most of the fashion designers I know today were initially prompted to go into the profession by their involvement in 4H. (I’m kidding — never heard of that before, but inspiration does indeed come from all over!)
I wanted to move to NYC or LA, go to school, then be showing my stuff at Bryant Park (me and every other 18 year old fashionista right?)
Right! I mean… I have no idea, but I believe you! 🙂
I got so much crap in high school because not only was I fashionable but I was smart and was told not to waste my time on an art degree (yes they have a point but way to be a real snatch)
Well, don’t assume they have a point. Just because you’re smart in a variety of areas doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time and your brain by pursuing something you enjoy. Fashion is an evergreen business — everyone will always be wearing clothes, and someone has to design them all. It might as well be you.
Valedictorian of my class in fact and I left school with about $12,000 in scholarships from all the local ones I had won.
I went to NYC with my mom to look at schools and after a family emergency and picking up on my mom’s hints that she didn’t want me to move away (I’m an only child) I switched gears to LA. After being awarded $11,000 from the school in LA I chickened out and ended up going to an art institute in Oregon. Bad idea. I hated it and it was amazingly expensive for a crap education.
Yikes. I’m sorry to hear that. But you’re still young…
After leaving with only having to pay $2,000 out of pocket I moved home for the summer determined to go to the big city for real. I applied to FIT in NYC but was waitlisted then denied because I applied too late.
Meh…one rejection is no big deal. Apply again next time if you really want to go there. I got rejected by the journalism master’s program at University of Missouri, but I applied again next year and got in. Persist!
Then while searching for colleges online I discovered a community college in Orange County that seemed perfect. It had fashion design, it also had other courses I was interested in and it was close enough to LA that I could get internships.
That also sounds like a good option, if you’re not up for waiting around another year for FIT in L.A.
Well now I’m down here looking for apartments and I’m getting everyone’s opinion as to what I should do. First my mom was all for the community college then transfer to a 4 year plan but after my aunt gave her opinion, my mother thinks I should go to a better, more well known, 4 year school.
First of all, make sure you understand that you’re the boss of your own life, not Mom or Aunt Martha or whomever. You can hear them out, but unless either one of them has especially valuable knowledge or experience, then you certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to follow their advice.
You also aren’t obligated to stay nearby just because you’re an only child and your mom will miss you. That happens to all parents, and they deal with it. She’ll be sad, but believe me, she’s seen this day coming since shortly after you started crawling across the carpet as a baby.
As for your aunt’s advice to go to a “well-known” four-year school: In the absence of any specifics, I completely disagree. You’ll save tons of money the first two years at community college, plus they have the programs you like and can get you internships.
If you take full advantage of those, you trump any perceived (and likely imaginary) advantage of attending a “well-known” school. Like most artistic and creative fields, fashion designers will care much more about what you can produce, not where you learned to produce it.
Now I don’t know where to go, where to live, or what to major in ( I was thinking of switching to French or journalism)
Why? You like fashion, you’re now well-positioned to study it, you’ve been wanting to do it all your life, and remember, you already ditched it once and regretted it. (And as an aside from that, believe me, these are not good times for journalists. AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. 🙂 )
My goal was to graduate college without having to take out a loan/no debt but I’m starting to think that combined with the places I want to live, how I want to live in the future and what I want to do I may just have to suck it up and take out loans or something. I need your help Judge Josh, I can hardly tell up from down at this point.
Yeah, well, don’t worry too much about having to take out loans, although I admire your innate notion to avoid them. Almost everyone has to take out some kinds of loans in order to make it through school, and you probably will, too — even without the one-year diversion in Portland.
To loan or not to loan is not the primary question for you right now, though. Judging by your email, you’re at a pretty important crossroads right now, seems to me. You have to figure out whether to pursue something you love or not, and you’re going to have to learn to filter out a lot of “noise” in the form of bad advice in order to do so.
My bias is pretty obvious, I think — I’d like to see you do the fashion thing. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Or, better yet — is the worst possible fashion-related outcome worse than the worst possible French outcome, or journalism outcome? Let’s weigh it. Every decision you make in life usually boils down to a comparison of the worst and best possible outcomes, and the likelihood of them actually happening.
WORST POSSIBLE FASHION SCENARIO: You love, or at least very much like, what you’re studying and doing, and since you’re at a community college the first couple of years, you do it fairly cheaply. You transfer out, continue to do well at a four-year school, and then you get a low-paying job in fashion.
That’s the most realistic worst-case, I think. You’re a valedictorian so I don’t much entertain the possibility that you’ll flunk out, and because you’ve been into fashion for so long, I also don’t entertain the possibility that you’ll quit liking it. So that’s it: doing something you love and ending up in a low-paying job. That’s the most realistic worst-case scenario.
WORST-CASE FRENCH/JOURNALISM SCENARIO: You go to school and find that, you know, “French is getting really boring” or “Wow, journalism jobs are so hard to find nowadays that it makes we want to cry tears of blood, and most of the entry-level jobs that ARE out there pay considerably less than a first-grade teacher makes.” (That last part is absolutely true, btw.)
And so you rack up student loan debt for a degree in a field you don’t enjoy — and you get the double-whammy aftershock of regretting having abandoned your first love, fashion.
Not much of a decision to be made there, IMHO. Install Skype and a webcam on your laptop so you can regularly chat with Mom and she can see you’re not letting the gaunt models of high fashion rub off on you by starving yourself down to 85 pounds. Get a place in OC and find a roommates (or two, it’s expensive) and dive in.
There’s comparatively little risk here. It’s community college — pay for a semester and see how it goes. If you sign an apartment lease and you hate everything so badly that you must must must leave, then break the lease and head home. Done. No big deal.
I hope this was hopeful. I could ramble on for another 1,500 words, probably, but I think you get the point. I’ll let the commenters take it from here. PLEASE come back to the site and let us all know what you decide to do!