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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

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Students weigh pros and cons of art degrees

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As college costs keep climbing and job markets become more and more competitive, prospective art majors must ask themselves a difficult question: is getting an art degree worth the cost? Financial security and the pursuit of a passion are often conflicting goals for art majors, and a few Redwood students have decided to prioritize the latter as they explore the visual, performing, and musical arts.

Senior Kayla Kaufman said that she fell in love with film in eighth grade, when she took her first film class. Four years later, Kaufman is heading to college and intends to major in film with an emphasis on directing.

“I’ve always been fascinated by film — all the different factors of production that go into making a two hour film,” Kaufman said. “I’ve been doing EPiC drama all of high school, too, and so I’ve gotten to explore that world a little.”

That exploration led Kaufman to take Honors Theater Directing in her junior and senior year, following in the footsteps of the Advanced Drama students she had admired as a freshman.

“Directing really clicked with me,” she said. “The first time I saw one of my plays up on stage, I was so proud of the actors and myself for just putting that together.”

Although Kaufman is enthusiastic about her future major, she isn’t unaware of the risks of pursuing her passion.

“This is one of the most difficult businesses to make a name for yourself in, because so many people have the same dream and the process is so selective,” she said. “Sometimes I think that there’s no way I can make it.”

But for Kaufman, ‘making it’ doesn’t have to mean becoming the next Steven Spielberg.

“I really do have a passion for [directing], and I think if people believe in themselves and have a passion for what they’re doing, they can make it work.”

Other prospective art majors are not so sure. Senior Lisa France, who intends to double major in English and art, is hedging her bets.

“I initially wanted to apply to an art school,” France said, “but then I thought that because art is such a hard career to make work, that I’d like to go to a broader school, so that I could change my mind if I needed to.”

France, who draws and paints, said that deciding to major in art was a difficult decision for her.

“It’s tough because art is not something that lots of people make tons and tons of money with,” she said. “I want to do it, but at the same time I’m like, ‘What am I going to do after college?’”

Although art and English are France’s intended majors, she said that she is happy to have the option to change majors.

“Art is something that I love, and I don’t want to live my life doing something I don’t like, so I’ll try and pursue it,” France said. “But at the same time, I need to be realistic about what lifestyle I want.”

France isn’t alone in her view. Senior Alexander Ehrenberg, who is planning to double major in music and science, hopes to keep music in his life without making it into a career.

“I’ve always been involved with the band programs at school, always had the balance of music and academics in my life,” Ehrenberg said. “I want to be a scientist, but I also want music to keep being a part of my life.”

Ehrenberg has been playing the piano since he was in preschool, but said that his true passions are playing the trumpet, which he began to practice in fifth grade, and composing and arranging music, which he’s been doing for four years.

“I arrange mostly jazz and chamber classicals, and I compose just generally classically,” said Ehrenberg, who will be having one of his pieces performed by the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra in coming months. “Most of what I compose is for wind ensemble, so it can be played by the band.”

Although Ehrenberg doesn’t intend to make a living from his music, he believes that those who are passionate about an art should follow that passion wherever it takes them.

“Music is just one of those things that comes naturally for me. I don’t have to think twice about doing it,” Ehrenberg said. “It’s one of those things you live and breathe. No matter what I go into, I want to continue studying it, and if others feel the same way about something they love, they should take that chance.”

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