Value of degree in the real world?

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funnygirl
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Value of degree in the real world?

Post by funnygirl » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:49 pm

I think that this quote on another thread is worthy of a discussion in its own right!!

"We have told DD that we will support her 100% BUT we are insisting she goes for a degree course - even her GCSE drama teacher wrote her a note saying 'get a degree'. It seems to us that, in today's job market, your opportunities are severely limited without one."

I have often wondered what is the value of a dance or performing arts degree outside that industry? In reality, there is little written academic work on the courses I know about and the main skills that are being judged are practical. I know that students on these courses need a lot of determination, organisational skills etc but that is the same whatever course they do regardless of whether it is a degree or not.

What value do people think a degree adds and do those with a degree in performing arts definitely have an advantage over those with other qualifications if they leave the industry?

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by francescasmum » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:19 pm

I think if they want to go into teaching they will need a degree, not at private schools and groups but at main stream school.

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Welsh Mum
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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by Welsh Mum » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:26 pm

When my DD decided she wanted to pursue vocational training our view was much the same as yours. We said we would support her, but it had to be a degree course. Our thinking was that if all else fails she could go into teaching - which requires a degree. Also 60% of jobs don't specify what subject your degree is in, they just was someone with a degree. Although some of those jobs may not look favourably on an Acting degree, I am sure that some of them will realise the many transferrable skills acting training develops. I suppose what I am saying is that I realise that most people do not end up pursuing a successful acting career and I wanted her to have something to fall back on if that should be the case. Not sure if that makes me negative or realistic!!
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Welsh Mum
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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by Welsh Mum » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:27 pm

When my DD decided she wanted to pursue vocational training our view was much the same as yours. We said we would support her, but it had to be a degree course. Our thinking was that if all else fails she could go into teaching - which requires a degree. Also 60% of jobs don't specify what subject your degree is in, they just was someone with a degree. Although some of those jobs may not look favourably on an Acting degree, I am sure that some of them will realise the many transferrable skills acting training develops. Also should she want to retrain she could do so via a postgrad course. I suppose what I am saying is that I realise that most people do not end up pursuing a successful acting career and I wanted her to have something to fall back on if that should be the case. Not sure if that makes me negative or realistic!!
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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by carriecrafts » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:07 pm

I'm not sure, only time will tell.

For dd3 it was purely a financial choice; without a DaDA the diploma was out of the question, with a DaDA she would have had to work alongside training to cover her living costs, on a degree she is managing fine on student finance alone. She accepts it is debt but as it works more like a tax it is manageable. However I worry that the degree offers slightly less dance time to allow for academic subjects.

Within performing arts, or at least being a performer, then it makes no difference which qualification she gets, it is the quality of training that matters. A degree will be useful if she wants to teach, or wants to do postgrad study but the diploma can be converted or topped-up to a degree via a one year course too if that is the route she chooses.

I think it depends on the subject really. DD1 did BA (Hons) Illustration and really doesn't need the actual qualification as a freelance illustrator. DD2 on the other hand is doing BA (Hons) Jurisprudence (Law) and absolutely needs the qualification to do legal work.

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by paulears » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:30 pm

There is no advantage, but a severe disadvantage later if they haven't got one. Always been this way. There's a need for people to have the best education = I'm not sure a Degree is this any longer, perhaps a Masters is taking over, as the one not everyone has.........

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by pg » Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:49 pm

I do think it can have an impact in some circumstances - but like everything else "it depends". If you are applying for jobs (non-performing jobs) and no-one knows you and you have no other way in - then not having a degree can count you out at the very start. For many jobs, even those where, to be honest, a degree is simply not needed in order to DO the job, a degree will be down as an "essential" requirement. As Welshmum says, the degree subject is not the main issue (for some jobs) - it's the fact of having a degree qualification. In these cases, the "degree equivalent" qualifications on the national framework would probably be just as good.

However, if you do manage to get a job - perhaps via some other route (e.g. starting off as a temp and then being offered a permanent job) then it will be your job history that becomes important, rather than the qualification itself. Once you've had a few jobs and proved yourself capable, the degree won't matter as much (if at all) - for some types of work.

In terms of earning a living as a performer, of course it's irrelevant whether you have a degree or not. Employers are not interested in whether your qualification is a BA or a degree equivalent or neither - they're just interested in whether or not you are right for the role in terms of skill/experience/look.

The "something to fall back on" argument is a valid one - but that's only really relevant if someone changes to a career other than performance. Jobs that require degrees are rarely flexible enough to run alongside acting/performing (even supply teaching has problems in terms of being sufficiently flexible). That being so, performers who change to non-performance careers can look in to getting a degree (or degree equivalent qualification) later if that's what's required for them to pursue something new.

If applicants have a choice, I think selecting a degree course at a drama school makes a lot of sense. But education can be undertaken at any age, so there's never only one path. Doors are rarely firmly bolted - and if they are, you can look for a ladder and an open window somewhere!

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by fartoomuchtodo » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:52 pm

As the originator of the quote I though I'd add my two pennyworth!

My DH, at 48, hates his current job (a personality clash) He's been there 8 years and in the IT industry for 20+ so he has huge experience but he can't even apply for other, similar jobs because, in every case, an essential requirement is a degree - they don't care what the degree is in - you just need to be 'educated to degree level'. This was not the case when he left school nor even just 10 years ago - then his industry training was enough - no longer.

I completely accept that a degree is not a requirement in the performing arts. However my DD is only 17 and may want to change careers one day or just find acting jobs too scant to support herself. I agree with PG that she could get a degree later - I did it when I was 30 but I can promise you it only gets harder with age ;) We have always talked about DD going to uni - it used to be maths she was going to study but she's adamant she doesn't want that any more so the BA Acting is, to some extent, a compromise.

Then, as Carriecrafts says, there's the financial aspect to consider and lastly what will our DD do if she doesn't progress to a degree? We can't fund any other type of course so she'll be 18, untrained and fighting for a job in the toughest industry imaginable.

I'm not saying a degree is the be all and end all or in any way guarantees work in the industry but all things considered, it seems the safest option. Each case, each family, each child will be different. It's no easy thing being a parent is it? I wish you all the best with your choices.

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by pg » Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:58 pm

Really good points fartoomuchtodo.

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by funnygirl » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:24 pm

Some interesting points! I realise that to get a job in performing arts then a degree per se is worth nothing - it is all down to talent and a host of other unquantifiable things.

I do currently have a child on a degree course in this sector and was just wondering if the degree will be worth anything in the end. I do not actually think that they will be 'educated to degree level' as the academic demands are nowhere near as rigorous as, for example, those of a degree in a more traditional subject.

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by Caroline A-C » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:54 am

DS finished his degree in Musical Theatre last year. I did ask him what the difference was between the diploma and degree and he said basically the degree means you can teach so there is something to fall back on. The fact that somebody has a degree, no matter what subject, is an indication to a future employer that the person has commitment and drive. I once read an article about performing arts graduates in the work place. Anita Ruddock (Bodyshop) said that she always employed performing arts graduates as she knew that they were focussed and driven.

We were a bit sceptical about ds starting down the Musical Theatre degree route initially but realised that it would be a total waste directing him down a more traditional route and he would probably drop which would have been a terrible waste of money. I think the way people measure the value of a degree is important too. A maths degree would be a fantastic achievement. However, if your passion was in performing, then that would be of no value in seeking employment in the performing arts. In fact, most of the top agents will only look at a potential client if they have been to one of the accredited colleges. Perhaps the way round it is to do a more traditional degree and then look into doing a post grad in performing.
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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by JTBmum » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:52 am

Hi everyone,

My dd has a degree in Musical Theatre. As far as I can see if you want to go into teaching you have to do a year's teacher training course if you want to teach in a school. The only place she can really teach is at a weekend drama school such as dramarama. She cannot even teach in a nursery or montessori school as she is required to have a C in her flipping Maths O level! (she had severe dyslexia and dyscalcula although she has a 2:1 degree in MT and triple A distintion in Btech Performance). She could be a nursery nurse though and get about £7 an hour ](*,)

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by funnygirl » Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:22 am

JTB, you make a significant point - and my response isn't personal!!

I don't understand how a performing arts degree can hold the same weight as an academic one and how someone can claim to be educated to degree level when they don't meet the general requirement for a more traditional degree, such as the C in Maths and English and, perhaps, a good range of other GCSEs. Those that start a performing arts degree course at 16 don't have A levels and doing one or two essays a year doesn't compare with the workload of a traditional degree, in my opinion!

If those that have mentioned teaching are talking about teaching performing arts then that would still mean working in the industry. I assume that a performing arts degree would not allow you to teach, for example, history, without gaining a further qualification!

The comment aout Anita Roddick is also interesting. Was it the fact that the students had a degree that attracted her or just the fact that to have completed a course in the performing arts led to certain qualities? Would she, for example, have been just as impressed with someone with a diploma in performing arts who had worked just as hard on the vocational element of the course?

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by fartoomuchtodo » Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:41 am

Funnygirl it is my understanding that any degree (followed by a year's PGCE) will allow you to teach ANY subject. My DD's drama teacher had a degree in law! However, one assumes that, if DD had to 'fall back' on teaching she'd like to teach drama.

I agree that a more 'academic' degree is preferable but you can't make them do it can you? In fact, with my DD it seems the harder I 'encourage' her one way the faster she flees in the opposite direction :roll:

That said, there is already a huge difference in the amount of study and rigorousness of examination between degrees. I studied biological science - I wrote at least two 5-10 thousand word essays a week, wrote up several experiments, read journals etc etc. My sister (also a mature student) read film and media studies and, by her own admission, did around a third of the work. She still has a 1st class degree though!

Then there is the difference between universities - nobody is going to convince me that a 1st in maths from Huddersfield Uni is worth the same as a 1st from Cambridge but the are both degrees.

I know, JTBmum, that a degree, in any subject, is not a 'magic wand', it guarantees nothing, it may not even help but it seems to us the best we can do - and that's all any of us want isn't it?

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Re: Value of degree in the real world?

Post by Caroline A-C » Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:56 am

Funnygirl, I think that it is the fact that performing arts students are usually extremely hard working, focussed and committed rather than the degree aspect. I am not saying that those not studying performing arts are not equally as committed etc, but it is far more physically demanding. Ds's days started at 8.00am and didn't finish until 6pm at the earliest. Some university degree courses get that many hours in a whole week not a day. On top of that many students have some sort of part time job to finance life.
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