I’ll be honest, it is a difficult industry to get in but if you match talent with determination you’ll make it work. Sure it’s a romantic idea to do a degree in something that makes you happy that isn’t at all guaranteed to give you a job at the end but if it makes you happy I think that’s probably the most important thing. You might chose to do a degree in something just for money at the end which might turn out to be something that you love at the end of it and you get a good job from but I’m sure that isn’t always the case. I’m not turning my nose up at those degrees at all, I guess you just need to weigh up pro’s an cons and personally I think happiness is an important factor.
I saw university as more of a chance to practice what I loved doing and even though it’s true I probably could have gone and done a degree in a wide range of subjects (based on my grades all through school and college)that was more specifically career orientated. I really couldn’t imagine doing a degree in most of them as I don’t think they would have truly been something that would have made me happy. I honestly didn’t learn anything about games at all on my degree as it was aimed towards traditional print illustration, but it did give me the time to focus on what I wanted to achieve, gave me time to practice and also prepare everything I needed to send out job applications without being distracted by anything else (other than illustration course work which I could link to this).
Also I think it’s important to think about the fact that that you could get a degree in english or geography or something like that that also isn’t tailored to a specific job at the end of it yet it’s somehow not seen to be as risky. I know plenty of people that have degrees in all kinds of subjects that don’t have a job anyway related to that degree, and work jobs that they are well overqualified for even because there simply isn’t much graduate work at all.
That sounds a little doom and gloom I know but I’m just saying personally I don’t think that a degree in art is any more or less certain to give you a job at the end compared to some other degrees. Also sure it can be low paying but you work your way up and weigh up the value of job enjoyment also.
Like a lot of subjects if you want to really succeed you have to put in the effort. If you want to do it and really succeed you need to put in a great number of hours practicing your craft and not just things that look pretty but to be a desirable candidate especially in graphic design, working on things that might be a little boring but very important in the real world of graphic design that are great for your portfolio- examples of work that could actually be used with a purpose- this is really really important. Sure you can draw but can you draw for a purpose? That’s really an important thing to learn. And also effort required not just with actually making art, in your case of the graphic design variety, but you also have to go above and beyond to make sure it actually happens.
I sent out something like 200 emails (which took a great deal of time to research to find that many places and time to send things out) with my CV and portfolio before I graduated university speculatively looking for work both freelance and studio based, and perhaps only 10% at most even bothered replying but was offered an interview by just one place which I ended up getting the job for which was enough of a start for me.
Be prepared to have no said to you a lot, it can be extremely frustrating and can take a long time to actually get your foot on the ladder in the industry but if you really want it and are prepared to put in the time and effort to get to as high a standard as you can then I don’t see why it’s not possible.
So to answer your question in short- honestly it’s a very competitive industry…but so are a lot of others. I guess you just have to weigh up things like money, happiness, how much effort you’re willing to put in to achieve your goals. I may be a little biased as I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
Edit: I’d also just like to add that even though they keep telling you this in school, not all choices you make when you’re 18 will define the rest of your life. Granted if you start from an early age it’s of course a big advantage, but if you try and fail or try and don’t like it then it’s not defining what you do for the rest of your life. People retrain for different jobs or go back to school later in life and that’s fine too! I know some people that have gotten into art when they worked as scientists for years and that kind of thing, and vice versa. Just figured that’s also worth thinking about!