Consumer advocate, Clark Howard, spoke about the old educational paradigm. Children attend school from K-12, then go to 4 years of college, graduate with a degree and go to work or on to grad school. Eventually, their educations end relatively early in life, and they move into the work force. He then went on to say that with the changing job landscape and exponential advances in technology, that model no longer works. Adults can’t afford to “end” their learning, in fact, learning should be a life-long endeavor.
To an extent, he is right. Many fields require a number of continuing education hours to remain working in current jobs or to advance. People who quit learning about new advances and methodologies in engineering or computer science, may find themselves unable to compete with recent college graduates and out of a job in their own fields.
How does this affect child actors? Even more than the average student, a young adult child actor who is successful as an actor is less likely to graduate from college than students who aren’t working in entertainment. They are making more as actors than their peers do after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and feel like that train will never reach the station and that the ride will be lifelong and unending.
In reality, that doesn’t happen. Even successful actors have time off or long-term dry spells. If they decide at age 30 or older to quit acting, or acting “quits” them, what are they going to do with the rest of their lives if they have not prepared for a career? They can go back to school then, or even better, if they never stopped learning new things and expanding their educations on their own or with classes, they can continue their ongoing studies.
We tend to think that an adult can only “learn” in college. That is not true. Anyone who has ever received a Ph.D., for example, knows that a majority of their work, research and writing takes place outside of a classroom. We have all heard of self-taught “geniuses” who learned on their own, either out in the world, or by reading and studying a subject that interests them without ever taking a class in their fields. It’s possible but an adult must be motivated and must know how to access correct information. Of course, to become a doctor, one must have a medical degree. But look at the computer wizards who are self taught programmers or learned to program online. It depends on the career, but there is much more flexibility now in pursuing a career than there ever was in the past. Even while there are fewer jobs available, there are other options one can pursue, such as independent contracting and self-employment.
Clark Howard is right. Education is lifelong and we should start looking at it that way, rather than as an endeavor with an end date that culminates in graduation. Adults may want to earn multiple degrees, but ultimately, they are the ones steering their educations, not an external process.
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