Skip to main content

Confessions of a Media Professor: Practical College Advice for University Students of Tomorrow

English: students online
For those that may not know, one of my many hats is media instructor for a prominent online university. I've been teaching students online for several years now. I have also taught at a few brick-and-mortar universities, big and smaller. And while as an instructor, teaching students face-to-face really is incredibly rewarding, I can't but help admire my online students who often have to juggle full time jobs, families, illness sometimes, and the pressures of post postmodern life with papers and chapter readings and media exercises.

The reality is that in twenty years, the university will not look like it does today. Going to college for four years of sheer fraternity bliss will be a thing of the past, or at least only for those few lucky enough to have mommy and daddy foot the bill.

The reality is that kids today are growing up in a society that is ever uncertain, in terms of jobs and economy and family life and even war. A kid today is more likely to be growing up povertystricken with the odds stacked against them than in a moderately middle class home where the parents are not trying to scrounge to pay the bills with a few jobs between them. And while there are still those families whose biggest problem is whether to go with the 60 inch plasma screen TV or the $25k kitchen cabinets, these are a blessed few (and in all honestly, most of those folks are just riding their credit card debt to financial disaster). 




So what does this mean?


This means that in the future a college student will need to be more economical when choosing their university. Going to college will mean:


  • Little to no college debt
  • Practical choices like online colleges or community college
  • Living with parents longer (room and board doubles college costs)
  • Choosing "marketable" degrees 
  • Working full time or part time while studying
  • Having less options for need-based grants as the pool of applicants explodes


And if you are on your way to college soon, or are already there, then you might want to reconsider how you are pursuing your education.

As a teen I had enough sense to opt out of going $50K in student loans for a music degree, but not everyone makes that choice. 



Your student loans need to 
make sense in light of your degree. 

Going into Philosophy or Humanities or History or even Law? Then be sure that the job market can support your degree, because currently the only "stable" fields are in engineering, computers, and health. 

Community college, part-time classes, or even taking an online class or two, or even vocational classes, may be a smarter bet in the long run. 

Refocus your American dream. 

We aren't in the 1950s, so the big house, two cars, private education for your kids, and beautiful white picket fence neighborhood isn't necessarily in the cards for everyone (nor would you want it to be). 

There are many options that make more sense like sensible urban or rural living, renting over buying too early, home education or online education instead of expensive private school education (if you live in a bad school district like my family does), one car and commuting by bike or by foot, telecommuting, working online instead of per hour (working online often can bring home as much as most low paying jobs, without extra hassles of childcare), buying less - not more, opting for simplicity and experience over things and corrosive consumerism.

Despite the news pundits and Talking Heads, the reality is that depending on your demographic, most Americans are going through a very real economic depression




What this means is that Americans need to be smarter about their college education, which is still necessary to succeed in our society. 

What this means is that universities need to change to fit the changing demographics of the college student population.

What this means is that the Talking Heads need to be ignored as they chat about a lifestyle that is not a reality for most Americans.

What this means is that individual Americans need to turn off the cable, ignore the commercials, and make good decisions based upon their real situation and not a perceived and now-defunct American dream.

What this means is that we as a generation need to redefine the American Dream and make it very real for our families and for our posterity. 

-------
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Share it with your friends and share your own thoughts about the direction of a college education below in the comments. 

Sabrina Peña Young is an award-winning composer, writer, and humanities professor who directed/produced the "groundbreaking" opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera and continues to challenge the very definition of classical music.

Comments

HOTTEST POSTS!

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1

Feel like writing an opera is only for big name composers with big budgets? Or are you willing to take the plunge and create a work in one of the most compelling and cutting edge musical forms...an opera?

Almost two years ago I embarked on the largest musical production I have created to date -  Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. After writing the award-winning Creation Oratorio and dozens of multimedia works, I wanted to combine my love of the audio and the visual into a single large scale work. 

Find a Great Dramatic Story
You need a strong story to write a compelling opera. Fortunately you can easily borrow from thousands of public domain works and modernize them. Think of West Side Story (just a contemporary version of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet).
Many great operas use Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm, and Biblical stories, all of which include interesting characters, strong themes, and action.
Libertaria borrows heavily from messianic stories, but is set in the future and changed…

Free Classical Sheet Music and Free Opera Downloads @ Scribd

Sheet Music (Photo credit: jayneandd)Awhile ago I decided that I would upload the bulk of my music scores and sheet music to sites like Scribd, the Petrucci Music Library, and Archive.org for free sheet music downloads. Some musicians told me that it was ridiculous to give away my music. The truth is that I don't depend on music publishing sales of my scores, and I would rather inspire a young piano student, percussion ensemble, opera singer, grandma, bored music student, or music teacher to play and study my music than hold on tight to my copyrights and let my music scores collect virtual dust on my hard drive. 

The Petrucci Library, Scribd, and Archive.org all have dozens of free music scores available for choir, vocal solos, piano, percussion, orchestra, opera, multimedia works, and more. You can see a short list of available free sheet music by checking out the Scores page.

You might want to check out scores to my modern opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, an exciting sci-fi o…

What is Blue? and other Post Postmodernist Thoughts

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)One of my many hats is online university instructor. I teach courses in Media and Music History. In my Media in American Society class, we discuss many aspects of media, including truth in media, media conglomeration, marketing, advertising, and the like. 

Today my students had an intriguing discussion/debate online about news and partisan politics. The debate was a healthy one, with some students claiming that they see all sides, others describing their favorite political pundits, and others lamenting the lack of authenticity in the media today. In the end, the fact that there would be no answer to today's questions, largely due to the lack of authenticity and the inability to trust anything in print, online, on a TV, spoken by a political leader, etc. etc., I brought up a short discussion on postmodernism, postpostmodernism, and its effects on American culture. 

Here is a small snippet that I thought would be …

Got the Election Blues? Animated Sci Fi Musical Showing TODAY in Buffalo New York 3:15pm EST at the Screening Room Cafe 3131 Sheridan Drive, Northtown Plaza Amherst, NY

Got the Election Blues? Animated Sci Fi Musical Showing TODAY in Buffalo New York3:15pm EST at the Screening Room Cafe 3131 Sheridan Drive, Northtown Plaza Amherst, NY
http://www.buffalodreamsfantasticfilmfestival.com/2016-program/schedule/ Libertaria The Virtual Opera At the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival

What the critics are saying about Libertaria: The Virtual Opera: “One of my favorite things about this story is its odd apocalyptic tone and strong sci-fi/fantasy foundation. The dark quality that comes with it is the cherry on top.” –FanboysAnonymous.com
“...As a story, it is very much in line with the good-vs.-evil sci-fi tradition, with the added bonus of a plucky female heroine…There are a good many percussion effects in the #opera, and its tone is primarily quite dark and sinister, very much along the lines of a contemporary video game score.” Palm Beach Arts Paper Music Critic Greg Stepanich
Based on the "groundbreaking" and "epic" animation sci-fi film

How to Make Epic Film Music: Getting Started

SONG FOR THE FORGOTTEN ROSE - Beautiful Piano Solo Classical Music

In this beautiful romantic classical music work  a forgotten flower finds redemption when she is rescued by a traveler. Composed by award-winning composerSabrina Pena Young for her wedding day. Dedicated to Nathan Young.  Scores are available through the composer's website (sabrinapenayoung.blogspot.com) and the Petrucci Library. ASCAP. Pena Young Publishing.



SONG FOR THE FORGOTTEN ROSE

In the Garden of Life

Midnight hid the scarlet Rose

Wilted and torn, she cried to the Heavens

Petals upturned, imploring of God,

The Grace shine down from the Mountain



In this land journey a stalwart traveler

Alone, he had conquered roads forgotten

This path had led him through hills and valleys

His search for beauty



And God, looking down upon his creation

saw what they could not see

Hope in the hands of the Great Orchestrator

in the form of a rose and a man



Buried in the shadows

The wanderer stumbled and fell on roots he could not see

Lying among weeds

His eyes alighted on Beauty



For there, near h…

Haiti Disaster Relief Efforts Hurricane Matthew Needs Blankets, Sheets, Pillows, Donations as Death Toll Rises

New Missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are collecting NEW blankets, pillows, sheets for Haiti. Send to: New Missions
2500 Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, Fl 32809 Financial Donationshttps://newmissions.givingfuel.com/hurricane-matthew Additional Information: https://www.facebook.com/newmissions/ HELP HAITI: In the wake of #hurricaneMatthew please continue to pray. We have these ways you can help #Haiti now:
1. Donate http://newmissions.org/help
2. Pack shoebox gifts http://ShoeboxDrive.com
3. Collect pairs of new sneakers http://GiveSneakers.com
4. Send new pillows, blankets, and sheets  New Missions is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, serving in Haiti since 1983 and the Dominican Republic since 2000. Your financial gift is tax deductible.
Related articlesHurricane Matthew Forecast Timeline For The Lowcountry | Mix 96Hurricane Matthew: Haiti issues red alert as Caribbean braces for storm | News StreamUS tells Haiti it will cut off money transfers in November if no reforms undertaken

Halloween Special - Writing Horror Music