Dear Harlan: My parents and I have been arguing about my future. I am a junior in high school and want to be a music major. My dream is to play in an orchestra or compose for screenplays. My parents tell me they aren’t going to spend $100k for me to get a degree that is going to make me a struggling artist. I don’t have a lot of interests outside of music. They want me to go into business or some kind of science. I have a strong GPA, but I have no other interests. How can I spend my life doing something I have no interest in doing just to make my parents happy?
— Major Problems
Dear Scared: Your parents don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars for you to struggle getting a job and taking care of yourself. They want you to get an ROI — return on investment on college. If you want to major in music, find people who are not starving and work in music. If you want to teach music, know what you can expect to get paid. If you want to perform in an orchestra, understand the process. If you want to score screenplays, know the business. Talk to these people. Yes. Reach out to them. Meet with them. Learn how they got where you want to go. Then communicate this to your parents. It’s easier for them to understand where you’re headed if you have a roadmap. The other route to go is to major in business at a school that has an awesome music and performing arts program. Minor in music and merge the two. Run a music venue (and perform there, too). Every musician should have business skills.