Everything Is Already Something Week 10: Sorry I Didn’t Go To College

Allison Page is here to blow your mind and it won’t cost you 25K a year.  

In my mind, if you’re reading this it’s because you’re horrified beyond belief that I didn’t go to college. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s gravely disappointed.

It’s been a few months since this happened so I feel fine talking about it… It all started one magical day when someone proposed that we change the spelling of “actor” to “acter.”  The internet conversation had turned to whether or not you call yourself an “actress” or an “actor.” As in, if you say “actress” clearly that denotes that you are covered in estrogen, and if you say “actor” you’re sort of going against that… ya follow me, here? I sincerely doubt it’s a topic that anyone outside of the theatrical world knows or cares about. Anyway, it’s one of those threads that is primarily a harmless list of people’s one-word responses to that inquiry. I add mine, which is that I say “actor.” My reasoning for that being less about “TAKE THE GENDER OUT OF THIS, NOW,” and more about the fact that I don’t like the actual sounds of that word “actress.” It’s like “panties”, or “moist” or “girth” for some people. I just don’t like the mouth sound. And it does sort of sound like I’m parading around in a ball gown carrying a teacup poodle, assisted by two strong men who are… god, that doesn’t sound so bad… anyway, I say “actor.” That’s just what I say. And a lot of us do so, actually. “Actress” sounds much too glamorous for what goes on in my life. I don’t think actresses should eat as many cheeseburgers as I do. An actress shouldn’t drink this much Guinness or swear like a sailor who got kicked in the dick. So – I’m an actor. Many other people add their two cents, and naturally I get a cute little notification every time that happens: “Slamalamadingdong also commented on blahblah.”  So I take a gander at the responses. Many of them are the same as mine. Some are different. And then – UH OH – someone has jumped the shark, kids. I see an “acter”.

Wait, what?

Let's call this shark I'm jumpin' over a SHAARK. With 2 A's!

Let’s call this shark I’m jumpin’ over a SHAARK. With 2 A’s!

Basically, she’s proposing we start spelling the word “actor” with an E, like “acter.”

Well, here’s the first problem: it’s not a word. And here’s the second problem: if you say “acter” to someone out loud… IT’S THE SAME. IT SOUNDS EXACTLY THE SAME. IT’S ONLY DIFFERENT IN YOUR MIND. Now, how many times has someone asked you what you do, and you’ve written it down on a flashcard and shown it to them? Would it be fair to say zero times? Never times? Not one times? None of the times? Because that’s how many times I’ve done that. I said that it seemed a little nonsensical to me, and that if someone wrote down that they were an “acter,” it would be hard for me not to laugh – which is fucking true. Now, did I have to say that? Did I have to say anything at all? No, I didn’t. I could have just sat there – probably eating cookies – and that would have been fine. It’s just that sometimes, especially the place where this particular conversation was happening, I get frustrated with the all-inclusive “Let’s support everything no matter what it is because that’s us being an encouraging group of women – never questioning each other’s ideas in any capacity. THAT’S how we grow,” mentality. And I guess, on this day, I just decided I didn’t want to watch one more shark-jump and I said something. Well, she wasn’t happy about it. And she definitely wasn’t happy that more than one person disagreed with her. Her response was that we’d made her “very tired”… okay… and that (and this part was directed specifically at me): “I’m a friggin’ Harvard Law grad and Mensa member… the end of that sentence leads to an insult, so instead, I’m off this string.”

All of the records screeched just now, in case you couldn’t hear that.

What’s the end of her brilliant sentence? How does she know I’M not a Harvard Law grad? How does she know I’m not the Mensa-iest Mensa Member this side of the Mississippi? Is she gleaning what information she can from the “about” section of my Facebook profile? Did she call Mensa to make sure I didn’t sneak in when she wasn’t looking? Facebook was likely her only source of information.

The thing is – yeah – I’m not a Harvard Law grad. (And if I were, I would say “graduate” because “grad” sounds stupid – like “Cali” and “totes.”)

It’s true. My only “higher education” is in the form of a year and a half of cosmetology school at Northland Community and Technical College in my teensy hometown of Thief River Falls, Minnesota. And guess what – I didn’t even graduate!

Allison on a good night.

Allison on a good night.

I realize I’m disappointing you right now, person-who-is-reading-this, and I’m sorry. I wish I had gone to college. It’s one of the big regrets of my life. The thing is, I didn’t come from a family of people who said things like “Strive for excellence! You can be anything you want to be! Get good grades and go to a stellar college! ACHIEVE!” That just wasn’t my reality. So many people never leave my hometown. They work at the same snowmobile factory their parents worked at their entire adult lives. My mother has, for the most part, been a housewife since she married my dad at 19. That’s what she wanted for me. Get married, make babies, live within blocks of my parents’ property, shut up, ride a horse once in a while, grow old, and die. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic… but it’s not too far off course.

So for the first chunk of my “adult” life, I tried to live her way. I got engaged at 19 (PARALLELS, Y’ALL) to a very nice boy who had been the captain of a neighboring town’s football team. I was going to cosmetology school because she knew I was just independent enough to need to get an actual job and thought that would satisfy me, and was trying to be happy with that. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy at all. The only happiness I could find was in the theater company that I had started at 18. I worked tirelessly at producing shows for a community of people who really only wanted to go to the local community theater to see a production of Oklahoma because it had a shitload of kids in it. I gave them something different and developed a following, which was surprising and great, but it just made me want to do more. Each show was more ambitious and took more of my time because I hated reality to an absurd extent. I didn’t give a shit about giving my grandma a perm. I did the bare minimum at school because it was the last thing I wanted to waste my energy on. Pretty soon I was spending less and less time with my fiancé, and when I did see him, I tried desperately to engage him in deeper conversations – but he just couldn’t do it. He didn’t have opinions about anything I had opinions about – or really anything else, either.

My mother had instilled in me an intense fear of living. She had done it to protect me, and she didn’t understand how it could be a bad thing. She loves me, she’s my mom, she doesn’t want bad things to happen to me. But it was a bad tactic, because I didn’t know how to live. I always knew that I was different from her, but I was afraid to assert it in real ways because I hadn’t dealt with the fear of the unknown. What if I diverged from the path and just fucking DIED IMMEDIATELY? Even so, I started to change things for myself. I called off the wedding, left my fiancé, threw myself even more into my theater company, started working as a radio announcer, started writing scripts, started… STARTED… I was finally fucking starting my life. And by this time, I was done with cosmetology school. I hadn’t graduated because I didn’t care nearly enough for that, but I was licensed which is all I needed to get a job, which I did. I used the money I made trimming mullets at Walmart (not joking) to build a bigger and better stage, more intricate sets, get more elaborate costumes, pay higher royalties for shows I really wanted to do, and to give myself a cushion in case nobody came to see whatever weird show I chose next.

Then I went to Thailand, while I was there my best friend died, I came back home to Minnesota and then… that was it. I was done. I couldn’t live that life anymore. I moved to San Francisco with one bag and $500 I got from a medical study testing the side effects of muscle relaxers and here I was.

And then everything was really fucking hard. For 4-and-a-half years I was almost homeless. I slept on floors the majority of that time. I moved 10 times. I once lived in a 2-bedroom with 6 people in it. 3 people slept in my room. I was on the floor with a pillow and a blanket. That lasted for months. I once lived in a closet. I shared a futon in an efficiency studio with another girl and two cats for 6 months. I stayed on my friend’s father’s couch and ate Hormel chili every night because it’s what I found in his cupboard. I lost 40 lbs from lack of food and walking everywhere. I lived on 300 calories a day for a while. I worked as a man’s assistant – he did not treat me well, but every once in a while he would buy me a sandwich. I worked 5 hours a day for minimum wage 4 days a week, because that’s the job I could get. A coworker found me crying doing laundry in the back room and gave me $40 and I have never, EVER forgotten that she did that for me. I was lonely a lot. I was cold a lot. My shoes were full of holes. Sometimes I couldn’t afford toothpaste and deodorant and I would sneakily use someone else’s. I dated a man who turned out to be an alcoholic whose life was even more in shambles than my own. My mother tried to convince me to come home at every possible opportunity but I just wouldn’t. I did my best to hide the reality of my daily life from her.

Then I started doing standup. Then I started doing sketch. And improv. And then teaching it. And then booking shows. And then I got an agent. And then I wrote some commercials. And then I acted in some stupid, stupid Japanese TV show that meant I could finally BUY A BED. I had a bed. When I bought it, I cried in front of the woman who sold it to me. I didn’t have sheets for about a month, so it was just a mattress for a while, but I didn’t care. I had a bed. I got a job at an amazing bookstore. I didn’t make much money but I was extremely happy there. Robin Williams told me I was funny…and then it took me 2 hours to get home because I couldn’t afford anything but the bus and I didn’t have the money to go out with anyone for a celebratory drink. Then an opportunity popped up at a giant gaming company. For a writer. They wanted someone who could write comedy, make things short and punchy, be creative… man, I could do that! I did a million and two writing tests… the guy wanted to hire me!… and then he quit. Devastation. Depression. Still living in a house full of clowns with nut allergies. Then another opportunity pops up… same company. I did a million and three writing tests… AND I GOT THE JOB! They didn’t ask for my educational background until I had already been hired, just to put it in their files. I was able to afford my own apartment downtown. My own apartment. I started getting cast in things I really wanted to be cast in. I honed my skills. I practiced. I molded. I created. I wrote – and not just dialogue for games, but other things too. I wrote screenplays, short plays, play plays. I worked. I worked really hard. I still do.

Not going to college has been a big, ugly chip on my shoulder. I’m sad about it sometimes because I wish I had that experience. I didn’t have the resources to go – or I certainly didn’t feel I did at the time – and I didn’t quite have the gumption I have now. I was still in the gumption-development phase of my life. And Mensa has never come a-callin’. There are several opportunities I couldn’t take because I don’t have a degree. And that’s always going to be the case. There’s always going to be something I can’t do because of that damned piece of paper that doesn’t exist in my life. I hate to be cliché, but I’m about to be, so prepare yourself for it…

That does not define me.

My lack of college education does not define me and it never will.

Maybe I’ll go to college some day. I’d like to do that. I’d feel good about that. But for now, the 4-and-a-half years I spent on the brink of disaster is going to have to suffice, and I’m okay with that.

Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. You can have yours, and I can have mine – but when you start throwing your education around like it’s an excuse for everything you’ve ever said to be taken with a heavier weight than someone else’s words? Well, I think they’d even frown upon that in kindergarten, and I totally graduated from that.

Also, Harvard says “acter” isn’t a word. Double also, Mensa says you’re a doodoo head.

Hey, Mensa’s words, not mine.

No Mensas were harmed in the making of this blog. You can find Allison eating a sandwich at work or on twitter @allisonlynnpage. And thanks to Cathy, who will probably never see this, for the $40 in 2009 – it was a really big deal.

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24 comments on “Everything Is Already Something Week 10: Sorry I Didn’t Go To College

  1. Paul says:

    You kick so much ass that Bruce Lee is jealous. Srsly, awesome.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I loved this. I too didn’t go to college and everyone I work with assumes I did. I did try and go in my early 40’s but decide I still didn’t have the patience for something that at this point in my life would not get me anything I don’t already have other then that damn piece of paper. Just keep kicking ass.

  3. Jesus, woman! You rock. In fact, 5 of my best friends never finished college & are both brilliant & successful. You would make 6–(actually, there are probably more, but many people who don’t go to college don’t broadcast it). You are one gutsy (funny, literate) chick, if you don’t mind my saying so. Just for the record, I also hate the word actress. Makes me sound like I have long, long…tresses. Not. You make we wanna cry, give you a great big hug, and punch pompous entitled people whose education clearly never taught them how to get along with other folks. An advanced degree is no substitute for a lack of manners, courage, imagination, conscience, or character.
    love, val

  4. Gabriel Ross says:

    College is over prescribed. And I say that as a proud college graduate who loved college and spends a lot of time wishing I could go back. And I’m even just about to complete a graduate program. I love education and academia. But I also recognize it for what it is. And for a very large percentage of people, it is simply a very expensive and time consuming hoop to jump through. The skills most people get and use from it could be acquired much more efficiently, effectively and cheaper for many. That being said, it is, unfortunately, for whatever reason, the dominant paradigm in modern America. It will likely be very difficult for many people without a college degree to find meaningful and gainful employment. I’m not saying it should be that way, but just that it is that way.

    • Allison says:

      That certainly is the case a lot of the time. There have been countless jobs in the past that I felt so strongly I would be the best person for…but I just couldn’t obtain them without some kind of degree. And many places it doesn’t even matter what the degree is FOR, just that you have one in general. I suppose they want to know that you’re able to commit to something in that way, but that idea leaves much to be desired and in no way guarantees that a person will be good at that job or even better at it than someone without that experience.

  5. As a fellow collegiate deserter, this hit close for me.

    Christ knows I gave it a shot, but doing it to satisfy your parents as opposed to sincere motivation will only get you so far. I wish I’d finished sometimes; when I’m surrounded by folks who talk about the experience. (In fact, I would have been classmate to a lot of the people with whom you and I work on a regular basis.) I’ve missed out on hundreds of jobs that require a degree – nevermind that I have all the skills for the job – and more! – not having a diploma meant I wasn’t qualified.

    But nothing has satisfied me as much as my craft. I’m currently unemployed, but my last interview was for a place that wanted to hire me as a writer – diploma or not. Though I didn’t get it, the personal (internal) vindication of that made me feel like a million bucks for a little while.

    I hope people go to college to learn how make a living doing what they love. If they can’t go for that reason, then why go at all?

    • sftheaterpub says:

      Stuart here: Charles, I just want to take issue with that last statement because I personally feel that the number one problem with higher education right now is that too many colleges are focused on people learning “how to make a living” and too many students, employers, parents and teachers are now focused on that instead of what colleges were originally about, which was creating better world citizens and thinkers. The result will be, in my opinion, a generation of college grads who can’t actually think for themselves, while in no way diminishing the ranks of snobs with degrees who don’t do any actual thinking because they assume the degree alone qualifies them as worthy and smart. This is no good, from my perspective, and it certainly won’t make for an environment where, say, art, will thrive, and with art vital elements such as social justice and progressive/creative thought.

      I am a huge advocate of higher education. I love my college and I loved my college experience and I specifically chose Reed because it wasn’t about getting you a great job after college- it was about teaching you how to think, how to argue, how to look deeper, how to research, how to read closely, and how to understand multiple perspectives, including the ones you didn’t agree with. It was a college focused on how to live your life as a thoughtful person and how to use reason to realize your passion, and to me these are far more important qualities to have than how to make a living. If what you want out of higher education is a “marketable skill”, go to a trade school. There is nothing wrong with that option and there should be no shame attached to it, but there often is, and it’s the other side of the “you want fries with that English degree” mentality that shames people for pursuing education for education’s sake.

      The problem with a lot of people in this country, and with the woman who Allison is talking about in this blog, is that they believe that there is only one way to do things and part of what I loved so much about my college is that I walked out of there truly understanding that there are so many ways to do things- and you can still have standards and criteria for evaluation. I knew that going in, but Reed gave me the tools to articulate that better, it provided me with a sincere sense of accomplishment, and it encouraged my drive to help others understand and do the same and that’s what college should really be for. It made me a better person. And yes, the “right” people see that I’m a Reed graduate and it occasionally floats me to the top of a pile because it attests to being able to finish what I started at a notoriously difficult school with a very specific core agenda and value system. That said, it can also work against me, as not everybody has heard of Reed, and some people have only heard bad things, or don’t value the good things they may have heard because the fact is a lot of people think my school is lame for not offering degrees in, say, Computer Science or Graphic Design. Additionally, Reed also fucked me up for life as it gave me a very high standard for intellectual integrity and tenacity, and sometimes I apply that standard where it’s neither fair nor appropriate (like, say, casual conversation), let alone appreciated. But that’s life. Very few opportunities come without some kind of price, and all our virtues are potential character flaws depending on the context (thanks, Reed, for helping me understand that too), as this woman who is the subject of Allison’s blog aptly demonstrates. But hey, it’s because of places like Reed that we have blogs like this one that provide a space for a diverse group of people, including Allison and yourself, to express their thoughts and explore them with others. If I’d gone to a trade school to learn to be marketable, I doubt I’d put so much time into an idealistic webpage that’s not exactly earning me a living. Then again, that webpage is made possible by a tech company somewhere, full of people who learned their marketable skills either on the job, at a trade school, or at a school that encouraged students to learn how to make a living first, and get idealistic second. My point is, it takes all kinds to keep the conversation interesting, which is something this woman would have done well to remember.

      • D says:

        I don’t know. I think that learning marketable skills and learning to think independently don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Certainly anyone who goes for pre-med, a teaching degree, a law degree, engineering or other fields that lead to marketable jobs is still learning to be well rounded at college.

        People have always gone to college to become employable. For some, that has meant going to an Ivy or a school with a certain sorority or fraternity to facilitate networking. For others, it means going in to learn marketable skills. The fact remains that college in America is a substantial financial commitment. Unless you are independently wealthy and you have a family who can afford to support you indefinitely, if you are investing 100K or more in the experience you want to leave with the ability to get a job. If you simply want education for education’s sake there are plenty of ways to do that without dropping 30 – 50K a year.

        People who are hungry for knowledge are going to seek it out regardless if they pursue a four year degree. A fair number of bloggers I know have not gone to college, or haven’t finished their degree – they are able to think critically without having had the experience of higher education.

        I think that colleges which blithely let their students major in completely unmarketable subjects – knowing there is absolutely nothing they can do with it after graduation – are doing them a great disservice. A recent report I read indicated that large percentage of college graduates, including those with advanced degrees, are severely underemployed and working retail. How many of those kid went to school with the idealistic notion of “learning for learning’s sake” and found that their degree could only get them a job at Target? Colleges and universities that help their students leave with a skill they can take to the marketplace, on the other hand, are doing a much better job at ensuring that they are releasing well rounded citizens into the world.

        Again, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It could mean strengthening the school’s core curriculum, to ensure that all students are required to take a diverse range of courses outside of their majors. Maybe it means that the college counselor convinces a student to minor in marketing or business, or pursue a teaching credential, in addition to majoring in philosophy. Perhaps it means there’s more of an emphasis on internships, to give students tangible experiences they can place on a resume before graduation. Perhaps it even means that when students declare a major, they have to answer a single question: “what do you hope to do with this degree?”

  6. Allison Page you are a divine GODDESS of comedy and your willingness to share your insights and opinions and all around awesome writing with the world is something i’m so grateful for. Also, i feel bad for that lady who is using MENSA to prop up her self worth. I don’t feel bad for you. Way to have had a gumption-getting time in your life. I wish the same for everyone, even MENSAface.

    • Allison says:

      I’m glad you mentioned that you don’t feel bad for me – I definitely don’t want that. HERE COMES ANOTHER CLICHE – I am who I am because of these experiences and wouldn’t trade them in. Though had you asked me at the time I would have wanted to trade them for some carbohydrates.
      Thank you for reading and MENSAface is a great villain name!

  7. kengrobe says:

    Really great piece, Page–and touching to boot. You have more spirit than any two people I know.

  8. Would love to see a play or solo performance spring from what you wrote, Allison. Moving and funny and thought provoking.

    For me, college was a good place to be challenged by a lot of smart knowledgeable people, and that taught me how little I know and humility. I’m sorry it didn’t work out that way for that mean person. I have met people who are used to condescending because of their Ivy League degree and just assume everyone else is a know-nothing. Makes me cringe.

    I also have a problem with people who claim that college is just a bunch of teachers telling you what to think (Conservatives who don’t like to think and my 19-year-old nephew who is about to lose his music scholarship because he doesn’t attend class, read the material, take notes, or study and believes his low grades aren’t his fault because the tests/teachers/college is dumb and he’s a genius communicator who doesn’t need facts to back up ideas even though he can’t even coherently explain why he likes his favorite TV show. Sorry for that digression. He’s been visiting…).

    Being in a room full of people exposing themselves to ideas and art and ethics and challenging each other about it is a great thing. And a college degree hopefully certifies that one has experienced that at some point in one’s life. It’s just harder to find that room outside of college. Theater is a great place for it though and you found that. So us college grads and your company get to enjoy your agile brain and writing skills without the certificate. Yay!

  9. Becky Bruske says:

    Al – great piece! What I’ve learned in my 54 years on this Level of Creation is that if we have family that truely love us we can achieve anything. For they give us the foundation needed to love and trust in ourselves and our own abilities. Where our Life Path leads us is – Uniquely Ours! College or trade school, high school grad or GED – what You accomplish with what God gave you is the most important part. You are the one who will look back on your life and decide – did I DO what I was put here FOR?
    Now – does the “Aunt-tourage” need to come out there and make some bimbo sorry she messed with one of ours?
    Love You, Sugar!
    Auntie B

    • Allison says:

      I’m calling you guys the Aunt-tourage from now on. 😉
      Thanks, aunt Becky!

      Oh, and in case anyone was wondering – I didn’t say anything to the woman. I didn’t see that it would get me anything at all. And I despise knee-jerk reactions.

  10. Tracy P. says:

    Allison, I already thought you were incredible and awesome, and I wasn’t even aware of everything that you’d accomplished and overcome.

    Anyone who relies on a degree or some other “credential” to sell and idea that people aren’t buying simply doesn’t have a good idea.

    Nobody needs a degree to be an amazing writer or an inspiring and worthwhile person. I think it’s stupid that a person with an unrelated degree is somehow considered to be more qualified for a job than someone who’s done the job for years without a degree. I think this is a result of someone needing an easy way to weed through hundreds of applications. Standardized tests do the same thing.

    The choice to go to school or not go to school is personal to every individual’s situation, and nobody has the same needs, even if they end up at the same school or the same job. I’m going to grad school, because I think that it’ll help me in my particular situation, but I totally respect people who can accomplish the same thing without going to grad school. One choice isn’t better than the other, it’s just whether it makes sense for the individual making the choice.

  11. D says:

    I love this essay. Thank you for writing it. 🙂

    As an ex-Mensa member, I can safely say that unfortunately, a fair number of Mensans show the sort of arrogance exhibited by the woman in that exchange. They think their ability to score in the top 2% on a subjective intelligence test somehow makes them better than others, they show a decided lack of social skills, and they will routinely complain about the “lack of intelligent discourse” they endure when they mingle with the hoi polloi.

    Of course, it’s not every Mensan, or even a majority of them – but the ones that behave that way tend to make participation so unpleasant that a lot of people drop out (me, for example) or just don’t participate.

  12. saintlennybruce says:

    Thank you for calling attention to a really important point, illustrated by a well-spun personal narrative.

    Despite the conventional wisdom, unless one does an applied Bachelor’s on a vocational track, or plans on a career requiring specific undergraduate preparation for advanced study, such as scholarship, teaching, scientific research, and many licensed professions, what one majors in for their Bachelor’s is largely irrelevant. Numerous studies over the past 10-30 years confirm that most graduates retain very little knowledge of their major 5 years after graduation unless they continue to use it, and more than 80% work in jobs completely unrelated. The primary universal advantage of attending college is the development of social networks, as a right of passage into the middle & upper classes, and to avoid having HR departments toss your resume to manage their workload due to an economic downturn or in filling a very attractive position.

    Even for law or medicine (if pre-med science is covered), an applicant with an honors BA in Classics (Latin & Greek) will be highly competitive if they have a high GPA & LSAT/MCAT scores. Unfortunately, the combined forces of Boomer parents unaware of the profound differences in the domestic economy & undergrad experience since their day, and ideologues that responded to the post-war invasion of the Ivory Tower by the hoi polloi through vocationalizing university for the laboring classes over the past 45 years. Have known people that passed the CA state bar exam without attending law school after apprenticing as a clerk/paralegal for an attorney, who did two-years of college with a 4.0 GPA & high LSATs, and proceeded to law school without a BA.

    Beyond the unfortunate trend of university-housed fellowships & residencies in playwrighting & other arts increasingly requiring MFA’s to apply, the arts remain one of the few sectors where skills-based competence, professional experience, tenacity, and opportunity are frequently more important than any formal qualification. To varying degrees, entrepreneurship, politics, sports, and some IT positions are the only other professions where that remains true.

    As someone who also left university without a degree, performed/wrote improv/sketch, auditioned & gigged, went to work for OB/OOB houses in management & tech design/operation, and began producing at the DIY/Fringe level, I was able to craft for myself a self-designed apprenticeship that steadily led to greater opportunities as a producer, TD, and fundraiser. While some friends were able to audition more, it didn’t build their acting resume that much faster, leaving them with waiting tables or tending bar to fall back on, and restricted options due to student debt obligations.

    Some major reasons that I think that Canadians and Britons are over-represented in US film & theater, and have much greater diversity of class background among actors within the UK than we do, are:
    1) They can graduate an academic or conservatory BA with little-to-no debt due to state subsidies, investing in an educated polity. The option to live lean while answering one’s vocation’s call allows young, emerging, and/or early career actors to pursue their career immediately, if they’re willing to live austerely, rather than go straight into jobs that pay enough to cover food, shelter, and student loan payments, consuming much of their time & energy.
    2) National Health Service, or single-payer, saves healthy Britons from paying premiums while still funding preventative care, and expands access to those with disabilities.
    3) Being an actor in London is like living in both NYC & LA at the same time, where nearly all casting occurs, as do most stage & screen productions, making a career acting far more viable, and pursuing work on stage & screen in parallel easier.
    4) Due to the relative strength of organized labor compared to the US, British Equity accredits many 3-year BA in Acting programs, so that graduates are immediately in the union, and can compete for leads, not only permitting but mandating at least minimum pay. British Equity is the only acting union, stage & screen.
    5) Far more acting apprenticeship programs with theater companies per capita, both for freshly graduated Equity actors, and those that took a 1st degree in a different subject, to qualify for membership candidacy.

    • Allison says:

      In conclusion: let’s all move to London because that sounds great.

      Thanks for all the statistics – mostly because they reflect what I had thought based on my own experiences (and knowing so few people working in the fields in which they have various degrees). Not that that’s a good thing, it’s just not that surprising to me for lots of reasons. One of them being that many people choose their focus when they’re teenagers and expect that they’re still going to want to concentrate on that in 20 years. If I had done that I’d be a roadie for Rancid, primping mohawks and lugging sound equipment. (Not that I wouldn’t love that, I might.) And then there you are, several years and gobs of money later, with a degree in a field in which you don’t want to work anymore.

  13. […] little over a year ago I used this blog as a platform to tell the story of my first 4 1/2 years in San Francisco, being poor – really, really poor – and trying […]

  14. […] surprised to find anyone actually paying attention to what I say. Just as another ‘Pub columnist once wrote, I’m acutely aware that I’m the least-educated person in the room – no grad school; no BA; no […]

  15. […] also definitely written some things I’m proud of. The best example of both of those things, is Sorry I Didn’t Go To College  from July 2013. I’m proud of being honest in it, and there are also a couple things in it I feel […]

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