Your Future, Your Choice
The answer often lies somewhere between what you want and they expect.
By Madeleine Ngo, University of Florida
Having your parents refuse to support the future you’ve envisioned for yourself is one of the most discouraging experiences a college student can have.
It’s definitely not ideal to be passionate about a subject, only to be told that you should be investing your future in something more profitable or worthwhile in the long run. Although it’s hard for both ends, if you’re convinced you’re making the right decision, you need to pursue whatever major you are interested in.
In the end, it’s your life, and if you explain why you want to major in a particular subject, your parents will eventually see where you’re coming from. If they’re really persistent, sit down with them and make a plan for your future career.
Map out an outline of what you’re going to do, starting with whether or not you hope to attend graduate school or search for a job straight out of undergrad. Show them multiple options and diverse paths you could take with your major of interest. If they see you’re serious, there is a better chance of them sympathizing with your decisions.
It’s a win-win situation. Your parents can see how serious you are, and, in turn, you’re able to explore which potential career paths work best for you. Play at your interests, and keep an open mind. Also, consider searching for internships over the fall, spring or summer semesters.
If you’ve always wanted to visit another country, check your school’s study abroad programs for possible international jobs or internship opportunities. Most of the time, advisors will be more than willing to help you find something that matches with your major of interest.
Not only will you be able to further show your parents how serious you are, but you’ll also make connections and figure out if you actually enjoy the work. Even if you end up absolutely hating the internship, at least you know and you’ll be able to find something better for yourself. You’ll also be able to clearly reevaluate your current major if it doesn’t work out.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore, you have a lot of time to figure everything out. The worst thing you can do is be distant and fail to justify your decisions. Your parents want the best for you, and they don’t want to see you struggling to find a job in ten years. They also don’t want to see you wasting four years of your life studying something that you’re not at all passionate about, though.
College is supposed to be fulfilling, as cliché as that sounds. However, it’s true, as long as you enjoy what you’re studying and spend your life dedicated to what you’re interested in. Midterms and finals are probably never going to be the highlight of your college experience, but hopefully you’ll leave in four years as an insightful, educated individual.
Whether or not you go to graduate school or pursue a career straight out of college, you’ll be able to translate what you’ve learned to others and hopefully inspire others later in life, regardless of your major.
Ultimately, it’s okay if you don’t know what to choose, whether it’s the major you want, the one your parents want or some in-between compromise. In the end, even if your parents don’t approve, the decision is up to you. It’s fine to agree with your parents, but it’s also okay to pick the major that isn’t as secure as a STEM major.
Maybe a STEM major will ensure a larger paycheck in the future, but a Humanities major will make your life fulfilling. Do your research before deciding; websites like this one are always helpful and can lead to possible career paths. They provide numerous options for any major you may be interested in. It’s just a matter of weighing the pros and cons and seeing which decision feels right for you.
It’s not easy, and you can’t decide on the perfect major in a single day, but it’s important to try different fields and explore your interests. If you don’t love what you’re studying or if you picture yourself in a different major, reconsider your choices.
It’s not horrible to imagine yourself majoring in another field or even multiple fields; having diverse passions is normal. Obviously, you can’t major in four or five subjects, but you have to decide which majors you’re most passionate about.
If you’re worried about job prospects, but you still want to study something you love, consider double majoring or minoring in a humanities and STEM field.
Especially for Liberal Arts majors, the wages can be mediocre, but the realization that you could be waking up every day and going to a job you hate is even more dismal. It’s better to be honest and realize what you’re passionate about now, instead of twenty years from now.