HomeCampusCub wants to carve own path and not take math

Cub wants to carve own path and not take math

By Bethany & Deb Liu

The other evening, my dad’s friend came over to our house for dinner. He shared the story of his daughter, a student in high school, who didn’t want to go to college and instead wanted to pursue her dreams of an acting career. We will call her G. G’s older sister is at a prestigious college and is very academically minded, but G wanted a different path in her life. Her interests lay in art, acting, and writing. So she asked for her father’s blessing and support to pursue her dream in the entertainment industry. He was torn. As someone who went to an Ivy League school and achieved personal and professional success, he didn’t know how to respond. She is a girl who dares to dream big and defy her parents’ expectations in pursuit of her passion. I wanted to dedicate my first advice column to her for her bravery.

Cub:

I’ll be completely honest, when I first learned of G’s story, my first thought was, “Wow, that is a great list of extracurriculars for your college apps.” Guess that’s a sign I’ve been indoctrinated by my Tiger Mom. G’s passion and commitment to her craft are admirable. Now, she must get her parents to acknowledge this.

Tiger Mom: 

When I first heard about G, I said aloud, “No cub of mine would be allowed to skip college to run away to New York to become an actor.” Then my actual cub said that would likely not fly with someone of her generation. 

As the old Asian American joke goes, “My parents once told me you have a choice of three professions: 

  • Doctor
  • Engineer
  • Failure

I get lightheaded at the sight of blood, so I had no choice but to become an engineer. I dutifully got a civil engineering degree and worked 0 days as a civil engineer. 

Cub: 

My mom is just being dramatic. Not being a doctor or engineer doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. She was positively livid when I broke the news that I was not going to study engineering in college, but she moved past it. 

G has already gone to her parents for a blessing, but now it is critical that she has a clear plan and proves to them that she is serious and that she is ready to be independent. G’s ultimate goal is to get them to agree to a gap year to give her dream a chance. But she must remember that this is her one chance to prove to her parents that acting is enough for her to have a good life. And if that doesn’t work out, a minor in film is always an option.

Tiger Mom: 

I would grudgingly entertain having my cub consider a gap year, but only if I felt she was mature enough to make the most of it. Most teens don’t understand that leaving home means living on your own, paying your bills, and making a living without the Bank of Mom and Dad backing your every move. 

I concede that opportunity cost is lowest when you are young. I don’t know why doing community theater would not be enough to scratch the itch, but if G is truly set on this, she should give her parents a full business plan. Have a budget. Find a place to live. Show them that she did her homework. G cannot expect them to fund her dream. Start working to save up. G, don’t think the path will be easy, or that your parents will be willing to carry you.

My parents came to America with a couple of suitcases and a few hundred dollars. They had to earn enough to survive independently, pay for college, and buy a ticket back home. I can’t help but feel that Cubs nowadays have it easy relative to what they had to do.

Cub: 

If nothing else works, G can always tell her parents how amazing her college applications would look with her living out George Bensons, “On Broadway” song? I mean it’s guaranteed to take her to a top-20 school! 

Clearly, I have college on the brain.

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