Amanda Charney, TMU contributor and sophomore at USC

Hello and welcome to the wonderful, weird world of being a theater major.

College is the best times of our lives. It's a place of learning, friends, parties and stress. Even amidst all of the fun, there is always a shadow lurking at the back of your mind…graduation.

The real world is off-putting for any student, but for an arts major, it can practically initiate hyperventilation. It's easier to avoid the reality that all too soon you'll be living out on your own, going to audition after audition, and encountering rejection after rejection. Unless you're very lucky, you'll have to have a real job on the side and live paycheck to paycheck, and there's absolutely nothing you can do to prepare yourself.

Or is there? Imagine you knew how to be successful as an actor in Hollywood or New York and could focus the next few years on reaching that goal. For me, that would cut down on the fear, doubts, and confusion that come with worrying over the future. What should you do to make yourself as likely to succeed as possible? And, more scarily, what if that isn't enough?

The term "back-up plan" comes in here. I have spent many insomnious nights wondering if I should be minoring in something with a higher employment rate, like food service. But this is where doubt sneaks in for a double whammy. By creating a plan B for myself, am I planning to fail? Does preparing myself for the worst mean I'm selling myself short?

There is no real answer here. Each person has to deal with things in their own way, and because of that, this blog will present you with both sides; how to give yourself the best chance to succeed, and how to provide a cushion if you fall.

I also will be delving into the mysterious and scary adventure of the "real world". Should you go to graduate school? When should you get an agent? Should you join the union? This is what I am here for; so you don't have to find the answers all by yourselves.

I'll be interviewing people already out there working in the theater world (and Hollywood too), both professional and amateur, to discover the tips, tricks, and advice we need to be successful.. In hearing the opinions of successful individuals, I hope you'll find something that clicks with you!

By the way, I'll throw in a snippet here about myself so you can perhaps get the erroneous impression that I am a balanced, calm, and stress-free person. I am a 19 year-old sophomore at USC working towards a BA in Theater, and I am a California girl for life. I grew up in a beach town in the South Bay doing children's theater for about 13 years, and my heart truly lies in musical theater. I'm a choir kid too, and I love being around musical people. I am also a big worrier, which as you can imagine, drives me to a great deal of stress, especially in the theater department.

But this blog isn't going to be about me. It's going to be about us, the collective consciousness of the nervous college theater student. This is the people's blog, for the people, by the people (well…person). My goal here is to share with you common fears, desires, questions, and problems of the typical drama kid trying to find a path to success as an arts major.

This will be a place of brutal honesty. Often living in someone else's shoes, looking at the flip side of the coin, and thinking outside the box (no more idioms, I promise). I look forward to discovering and learning with you along the way through each blog entry and conversation.

Lastly, this column is for you. Tell me what you'd like to hear! Send in questions you have for fellow students, recent graduates, professors, you name it. My goal here is to help spread a fluffy security blanket of reassurance, if you will. God knows I've had enough stress in my life with auditions and schoolwork alone, not to mention having to worry about life after college. So tell me how I can share the love and ease all our minds!