Manda writes: I know you mentioned that you switched from journalism to majoring in television. How soon into university did you do that? My goal is to one day be a writer/producer and I've just started a journalism degree but I'm kind of unhappy with it. My only option is to change my major to Writing and Cultural Studies (which is just fancy for creative writing), and I think I would be happier doing that course except it's not as practical as journalism and although I would be able to experiment with screenwriting in my subjects, I don't know what kind of job I'd get out of it at the end. Do you see any hope for creative writing graduates in the entertainment industry or is it better to just keep your interests outside of your studies?
It sounds like you've already read them but in case other readers haven't I first want to point you to these posts:
Is TV school worth it?
Why I (aspire to) write for television
But to answer your questions - I think I technically switched in the fall of my sophomore year, before I went to London...but I ended up taking only classes outside of my major requirements in London, so I didn't really hop on the TV writing path til I got back. I was in a good position because I already had 30 credits under my belt when I entered college (yay AP classes), and my school had very few "gen ed" classes (0 for journalism majors, and 5 for TV majors, 3 of which I covered with APs). Every school is different. Switching majors late in the game can make it hard to fit in all your requirements, and also present the interesting scenario of being the random junior or senior with all the freshmen in Media Prod 101, but I found it to be doable.
My instinct is to tell you to go for Creative Writing and not Journalism. It seems like you're going to gain more from writing prose than shooting B-roll of the local mayor election. But it really kind of depends on what the programs are like at your school. Remember that there is no specific degree requirement for becoming a writer - or for getting a job in Hollywood. For writing it all comes down to your writing, and for the Hollywood job, it all comes down to someone giving you a chance. Personally, I recommend taking courses that allow you to read and write as much as possible. I was a TV writing major, so I ended up taking several TV writing and screenwriting courses. I was also an English minor, so I took a ton literature courses - Asian American Lit, Feminist Lit, Poetry, Dramatic Lit, etc. They were all great. And then I took a bunch of regular creative writing courses on my own, too. You also might want to think about picking a major that allows you to take the most classes OUTSIDE of your major. Courses in science or psychology or architecture might just inspire you to write something really interesting.
Lastly, happiness is important. Since in the long run it doesn't really matter what your major is, I think you should pick the one that makes you happy. And yes, journalism might seem more "practical," but really only if you want to be a journalist, I think. And it's a pretty tough career right now: Check out this blog, which chronicles all the newspaper layoffs in 2009.
Ha. As if TV writing is an easy career :)