The Christian Connector


college major: Film Studies
By Lauren Elrick

As the sun fades on screen over a small boat floating upon the water, an audience full of viewers wipes away tears, rustles popcorn, and observes in awe as the scene closes with a slow chiming song. One lone viewer claps in admiration and wonder as the credits roll. Movies are, no doubt, a beautiful art form, put together by fusing a conglomeration of moving parts, people, and ideas. In this modern age, the word film—whether a television show or a movie—is synonymous with entertainment, but few know about the time and effort that goes into the craft. 

Studying film results in a curious combination of art, engineering, and interacting with people. There are many different jobs that stem from the film industry: screenwriting, acting, video editing, camera operating, directing, producing, working with lighting, mixing sound, costuming, as well as a host of other positions depending on what area of film studies you’re most interested in. Every detail of a film, from the stirring of birds in trees to the dialogue between two main characters is meticulously planned and executed by an entire team of people. There’s also a wide variety in the types of films you can make: documentaries, narrative films, experimental films, reality TV—the list goes on and on.

If you decide to major in film studies, you’ll find yourself shooting and editing scenes again and again until they match your vision, taking criticism from and giving criticism to fellow classmates, collecting props and actors for your films, following orders when working on someone else’s project, and spending countless hours getting the cast, crew, and equipment necessary for a shoot. Of course, you’ll spend a lot of time watching films, but overall, this major is very interactive and hands on.

When considering film studies as a potential major, it helps if you’re the type of person who’s simultaneously creative and patient, as well as observant and willing to work with others. Thriving under pressure is also a must, as with anything in the film industry, time is money. Your adaptability will also be called into play because you’ll have the opportunity to try out a host of different types of “positions” as you learn about the world of film. One day might find you editing the final takes of a film while another will find you coordinating equipment or serving as production manager. Other necessary skills are good hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, project management, physical stamina, and a knack for using the computer.

The job outlook for the film industry is great, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career field is supposed to grow by 11% between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, the median pay was $55,740 per year, and the highest 10% in the group measured made around $105,120 annually. Most careers in film studies require a bachelor’s degree, and many colleges offer courses in specializations, such as cinematography or offer training for video-editing software. Some who major in film even go on to pursue Master’s degrees or other types of post-graduate diplomas.

The film industry is fiercely competitive, so honing your skills, competence, and knowledge is key for capturing a great job. It’s also important to get involved with as many different film projects as you can—simply to gain experience. As far as location goes, entertainment hubs such as New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta will have far more job openings for aspiring editors, directors, and other film studies majors; however, the competition will be all the more intense due to the huge number of creatives living in those areas.

Film studies is a unique and incredibly rewarding major. There’s nothing quite like watching hours of painstaking artistic and technical work play out on the big screen, and the relationships you can make along the way, as well as the skills you gain, can be very fulfilling. If movies are your thing, and the process of making art fascinates you, consider a major in film studies!



College Major: Sign Language
By Lauren Elrick

One of the key components of our everyday lives is communication. Whether you’re hollering hello to a neighbor mowing his lawn across the street, smiling at your crush in the hallway as you head to your locker, or halfway listening to your chemistry teacher instruct about the wonders of the periodic table of elements, you’re communicating something either verbally or through your body language.

When it comes to communication—and especially nonverbal communication—our world is chock full of correspondence and discourse, whether we realize it or not. Sign language, especially, is unique because it utilizes body language in its entirety, and its key component is that it allows Deaf people to seamlessly communicate both with one another and with hearing people. Becoming a sign language interpreter is a great way to assist in helping this communication happen! The job duties of sign language interpreters center around converting spoken language into sign language using techniques such as signing, cued speech, lip reading, and body language.

Currently, there’s a shortage of qualified interpreters for the Deaf, so majoring in sign language is a surefire way to land a solid career right out of college. Those who major in the field may have the opportunity to learn about the Deaf community, take classes with language labs, take part in hands-on learning activities (literally!), and even take field trips or participate in internships that help people with hearing difficulties.

As a sign language interpreter, you can work in a variety of settings, including social services, education, government, business, performing arts, hospitals, legal fields, and much, much more. Television and theater productions often need sign language interpreters to translate for viewers, and conferences and other public gatherings also utilize interpreters on a regular basis. Basically, you can take your sign language interpreting skills to whatever field you’re interested in! Other sign language careers with specializations include working as a speech pathologist, psychologist, employment counselor, social worker, childcare worker, or audiologist. There’s also the option to teach sign language to students if passing along skills and helping other people get set up for the career of their dreams sounds like a rewarding vocation to you.  

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for sign language interpreters (between 2012 – 2022) is 46%, and the median salary for interpreters is $36,103. In 2014, BLS reported that interpreters and translators who were employed in scientific and technical industries earned an average annual salary of $56,530, so the money you make really depends on the field you’re working in. For sign language teachers, the projected job growth (between 2012 – 2022) is 15% - 21%, and the median salary is $67,910. While sign language teachers require a Master’s or doctorate degree, sign language interpreters can get certified or receive an associate’s degree via community college. However, most are generally required to have a bachelor’s degree to pursue careers in interpretation.

Learning another language can be hard work, and doing informal or volunteer work while you’re in school is a great way to get some experience under your belt. Many community organizations, hospitals, and even sporting events are regularly looking for sign language volunteers. As with any foreign language, American Sign Language (ASL) has its own vocabulary and grammar. However, Deaf people will often “fingerspell” in exact English as well, which means signing in English word order instead of the unique grammar of ASL. For example, when signing in exact English, someone would sign, “The sunset was beautiful yesterday” and include a sign for each of those words. When signing in ASL, someone would sign, “Yesterday, sunset beautiful,” as that would be the typical phrasing in American Sign Language.   

Many of the signs used when signing exact English are the same as ASL, but the grammar is often different, which requires the interpreter to transliterate that person’s exact words. Conversationally, it’s typical for Deaf people to switch back and forth between ASL and English, so becoming an interpreter requires you to be a quick thinker and communicator!

If you’re captivated by non-verbal communication, have a speedy mind, and interested in bridging the gap between Deaf and hearing people, this major might be right for you!




College Major: Recreational Therapy
By Lauren Elrick

There’s something deeply healing and beautiful about the arts. Right along with that, not a lot beats the rush of endorphins after a run, or the warm, comfortable feeling that comes after you commune with a group of friends. Whether it’s going for an early morning swim at the local community pool, watching the velvet curtains close on a magnificent theatrical performance, listening to a majestic symphony, or having a deep conversation with another person, the worlds of art, endorphins, and people does something glorious for the soul. But what do these three fields have in common?  

The arts, exercise, and community outings are all vehicles that recreational therapists use to help others. Recreational therapy is a great gift to many people, and without recreational therapists, many people would simply fail to heal or develop as quickly as they may have otherwise. Recreational therapists coordinate, plan, and direct recreation-based activities and programs for people who have disabilities or are recovering from an illness or injury. Using a variety of modalities, such as art, exercise, music, dance, sports, community outings, and aquatics, these therapists help maintain and improve a patient’s social, emotional, and physical well-being.

Whether it’s teaching patients how to cope with anxiety or depression, implementing plans to prevent a patient from harming him or herself, or helping a patient learn social skills, recreational therapists play a big role in helping those with long-term disabilities or illnesses. They may also assist patients via observations, medical tests, discussions with the patient’s family, and through specific treatment plans. By evaluating the patient’s progress over time, a recreational therapist can evaluate which interventions are most effective.

The majority of recreational therapists are employed by hospitals or nursing care facilities, but many are also employed by the government or through retirement communities. They may work with surgeons, nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, or occupational therapists as they assess a patient’s progress. Depending on the patient, therapists may also end up traveling with the patient and his or her family to continue care on the go.

Most recreational therapists generally need a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. Courses usually include studies on human anatomy, assessment, psychiatric terminology, disabilities, and the use of assistive devices. Certification is also an important part of education for therapists, and most hospitals prefer to hire certified recreational therapists. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential, which requires a bachelor’s degree, an internship of 560 hours, and passing an exam. Other pathways to getting certified include a bachelor in an unrelated field combined with additional classes and work experience, as well as passing the exam.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for recreational therapists is 12% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average due to the aging baby boomer population and the shortage of medical personnel expected in the coming years. In 2015, the median pay for recreation therapists was $45,890 per year with the highest 10% earning around $71,790. Government positions paid the most while retirement facilities were recorded as paying the least. Most recreational therapists work full time, but some work part time depending on the company they work for.

It’s important for recreational therapists to have some key skills: compassion is a must as kindness and empathy when working with patients and their relatives can really make a big difference in how cared for a family feels. Other important skills to have are leadership tendencies, good listening skills, patience, resourcefulness, and great communication skills.

If you’ve always dreamed about your life’s work centering around caring for others, but the educational requirements for nursing or becoming a doctor have always been a bit overwhelming, consider recreational therapy. You really get the best of both worlds, and you’ll be able to make a difference in someone’s life by using tools that all humans need in their life in one way or another.