Wednesday, May 9, 2012

And the Student Becomes the...Lab Tech?

Dear Eve,

Should I change my major? My parents think I should choose a major that will help me get a job, but I hate the one they've picked.  My current one is in the liberal arts, but my parents are pushing me into one of the sciences.  I know I could be successful in the career they think is best for me, but I know I'll be miserable underneath.


Dear Student,

If you're paying for your education, do what you want.  Out of respect, listen to what your parents have to say, but be sure they know that you are The Decider. You can remind them that you're capable of supporting yourself while sending yourself through school and so, rightly, feel qualified to make good decisions about your career choice, too.  So there!

If they're bankrolling your school and/or life needs, however, then your part-time job should be washing their feet with your hair.  You are simply that lucky/mind-boggling blessed that some type of adoration is called for.  If you don't know and own that, stop taking their money, please, like right now.  When you allow someone to act as an adult on your behalf, you lose a lot of the perks that come with being that adult yourself.  One of those perks is  getting an expensive degree that will be virtually worthless when job-hunting in today's economy.  Your parents have a right to be concerned with your money-making prospects.  They're paying bank now with the hope that when you're schooling is done, you'll be professionally prepared and able to land a job that will allow you to support yourself.  Then they can look at you and proclaim "Success!" and be proud of you and themselves for giving you such a great head-start in life.  But if you get out of school with a degree with few marketable skills in this soul-killing job market, they will probably continue to be a surrogate adult for you, hoping for the day when "Success!" miraculously lands in your lap and they can finally unload you.  This doesn't mean that  you can't have a serious conversation with them about your fear of being miserable.  Do it and then let them tell you to suck it up; be happy on your own time.  You have your whole life and many career changes ahead of you so lighten up and go get a lab coat.

Please don't misconstrue my advice that you get a marketable job as a condemnation of majors that fall into that not-so-marketable category.  I have a useless degree myself and I'm even friends with people with useless degrees.  I've had them to my house for dinner! I'm no condemner.  The thing is, I paid for that bastard all by my lonesome.  I knew there wasn't a chance in hell I'd make any money with it, but I was young, romantic, and looked at college as a place to learn and grow, not as a job farm.  The cool thing about my questionable decision-making process, though, is that it was all mine.  I didn't disappoint anyone or stress anyone else out;  I didn't put out my hand and ask for string-free subsidies. I earned, literally, the right to be a bit of a jackass and to choose obscure knowledge over money-earning power.

So, my darling, if you have a soul-deep need to get a degree in communications, you should do it with that burning passion that only communications majors seem to possess.  Just do it on your own.

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