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The Importance of a High-School Diploma

College/Career Expert Advice from Carol Carter

Q: My son, who is a freshman in high school, is an extremely gifted filmmaker and film editor. He has been pursuing film aggressively since early grade school. He won an award for two films he submitted to a local film festival, and received quite a bit of recognition in the local press. He is already telling me that he will not "waste" his time in a 4-year college, and that he needs to go to film school in either New York City or California. He actually feels he's wasting quite a bit of his time in high school! How can I keep him motivated to get good grades in high school and not drop out? Is a 4-year college necessary for someone who passionately knows what he is going to do with his life at the tender age of 15?

A: A four-year degree is not necessary for someone like your son, but it will help immensely if he does follow through with a degree. There are all kinds of examples of people who beat the odds and became successful in Hollywood without a college degree. The best reason to get a degree, however, is to learn to use your mind in a variety of ways, which can help you to become an even more talented filmmaker. But your son has to see these advantages for himself. If you can get him to talk to some people who are on this path, it would help your case. And, if he should ever tire of filmmaking, he will have other doors to open with his creative talents if he knows alternate paths. Either way, your love and support of his decisions will count the most in his ability to make his talents and dreams come to fruition.

More on: Expert Advice

Carol Carter is the author of many books on college and career planning. She is the cofounder of Lifeskills, Inc., a nonprofit organization that encourages high-school students to explore their goals, career options, and the real world through part-time work and internships. She also gives workshops around the country on career exploration and other issues directly related to helping students succeed in college, career, and life.


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