Should you go to college for video production? With YouTube and countless other resources available to you, it can be tempting to decide against formal education. There are plenty of arguments that both support and oppose the necessity or usefulness of college in this industry. Now that I’ve been working as a professional for a few years, I wanted to give my point of view. Personally, I favor going to college for video production, but not for the typical reasons of getting a degree.
My intention is not to persuade, but rather enlighten you on the focus points. (To clarify, this is not about becoming a filmmaker, but instead about becoming a general video producer which can still lead into becoming one.)
Why You Should Go to College
The majority of the workforce requires a certain level of college degree, but the entertainment and production industries tend to care less. With that in mind, the degree itself should be the last thing you worry about. What you should be focusing on is networking, building a portfolio, and using your time to learn and experience everything you can.
What Makes College Worth It?
By going to college, you would traditionally be provided with equipment and studio space to some degree. This alone has massive value! On top of this, college is where you’ll have all the time in the world to focus on your craft, so use your time! There’s no single instructor that will teach you everything you need to know, but having them around would boost your learning efficiency. In addition, there’s no better time to focus on developing your portfolio than when all of these resources are available to you. Also, Your classmates add value to the college experience, because video production relies heavily on networking for collaboration.
Between all of these focus points, discipline is an overall necessity that you’d end up with. The ability to learn the craft aside seasoned professionals is unmatched when compared to someone who is purely self-taught. By heeding their advice, you’ll be workforce-ready by graduation with much less confusion.
What Makes College… Not Worth it?
Of course, the cost is always a major consideration and often misunderstood. The price of education doesn’t always equate to the quality you’ll receive, so make sure you do a lot of research. Meet with your potential supervisors and ask about the curriculum before jumping on board. Not every college teaches video production quite the same way. Some colleges may use very outdated software or equipment and shrug off the necessity of modern understanding. Be wary of places like these, as it would make you much less workforce-ready upon graduation.
“College will not answer the questions you never ask, nor will it reward the work you never do.”
As introduced, the one major pitfall is how a college degree in video production is much less valuable than a degree in other industries. This is often where it gets confusing, because ultimately it all comes down to the quality of work in your portfolio. If your work comes off as lazy, careless, and unmotivated, you can assume an employer wouldn’t hire you. In this case, even a bachelor’s degree has no value. To remedy this, you have to be fierce in your commitment to learning both in and out of college. Follow tutorials on the days you have less homework, or read up on new methods used in the industry.
If I leave you with anything, please remember this: The effort you put in is equal to the results you get back.College will not answer the questions you never ask, nor will it reward the work you never do.
Why You Should Not Go to College
Now that we have the pitfalls with college out of the way, answering this argument last should make more sense. Opting to go to college should never be a choice made out of pressure, but rather a calculated and understood decision. The same can be said for opting out of college and finding your own way. Both options are definitely possible, it really just depends on what you’re looking for out of the industry.
Why Should You Teach Yourself?
By choosing to learn the video production industry on your own, you’d have to acquire the equipment, software, and space on your own. While this may initially sound like a bad thing, in the long term this is an investment you get to keep and use professionally in the future. For this same reason. opting out of college is more common in those who seek to freelance or work on their own terms. The learning process is more personalized as you’ll most likely look for education that fits your needs.
Websites such as Skillshare, Udemy, or Pluralsight are common and effective resources aimed at self-learners. The cost of using these services are much less than college, and yet they can still provide enough education for anyone to start working professionally. Learning at your own pace without public distractions tend to be a big deal for some people. Either way, opting out of college would definitely save you a lot of money and relieve you of student loans. There is also a strong sense of freedom involved with self-teaching that may be more effective for some.
As mentioned in the pro-college argument, you don’t have to worry so much about your level of degree. This is much more true if you aim to freelance or own a business! Of course, if your goal is to work with an established business, your portfolio still needs to be professional and acceptable.
What’s Difficult About Self Teaching?
Unfortunately, you would simply lack the ease of networking and efficient learning methods that college education provides. Also, your portfolio may lack proper cohesiveness if you don’t consult with anyone who works or has worked in the industry. Instead of strolling into a classroom with prepared curriculum, you’d have to prepare your own. What you choose to self-teach might not be what you need to focus on, and without any form of guidance, it may become frustrating.
Something else to note is the lack of a robust feedback system. With networking in college, it’s definitely much easier to ask what you might be doing wrong and how you need to shift your focus. Feedback can apply to both your projects and whether or not you’re understanding core concepts. As I’ve mentioned before, this industry is incredibly collaborative and people-based. If you do choose to jump into this industry alone, I advise finding a support system to help you along the way!
Now Choose Your Fate
Don’t feel like the road ahead is 100% final once you’ve made a choice. If anything, I advise that anyone should pursue formal education while also self-teaching! I could keep listing more reasons for each argument, but I want to keep this post concise while still answering the question. Take some time to assess your personal situation and figure out what feels right for you! Even after you’ve made a choice, neither of these choices is permanent. Take your time and make a list of your pros and cons.
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