Op-Ed: Listen up, college students. You don’t ‘get’ a grade. You have to earn it.
In the past year, I’ve taught several classes at the college where I teach a popular “arts of the visual arts” course, which is taught by an arts professor. One day in February, in my “reading” tutorial, I asked the students where they thought my work would fit on the list of bestsellers. They answered, “We don’t know.” Then I looked them in the eye and asked, “What do you want to do when you graduate college?” They didn’t hesitate. They said, “We want to be journalists.”
My first answer to what should be obvious was, “Congratulations!” After all, I do have all the skills, and even more so than I have ever had in my life in the fields of writing and music, but at the end of the day, it’s about a person deciding what kind of work they want to do. That might have been easier if they had understood that the work they wanted to do was journalism.
Instead, my students are not just being smart, but they are being dumb, and very angry. They know what they want to do, but they don’t know how to find work that fits their talent, which they see on the screen of their phones. They do their best work in the fields of their choice.
You see, their “talents” in the visual arts are not the same as what you and I know. In my previous job, I could draw a diagram, make a video (with video editing software), paint a scene, and design a web page. I could do this without taking classes in the visual arts to learn how to do all these things. Yet these are the skills I wanted to learn in college.
The truth is, I didn’t want to learn how to draw a diagram. I wanted to learn how to create graphics using the web page design software in my word processor so that I could make graphics for my web page design class. In fact, I probably wanted to learn how to make graphic software like Photoshop, Illustrator, InVision, and After effects