Walking home from work with a family friend I found myself in a discussion about her daughter going to college. It started with the mother telling me that she had no money to help her daughter go through college, which led the mother to push community college fiercely. There is no problem with attending community college (It’s significantly cheaper and the child can live at home). However, I am a firm believer that if you know what you want to go to school for – as this girl did – you should not let money stand in your way. Money is a large obstacle, but when approached in the correct way it can be overcome and maintained.
She then started to say how she had been pushing “high-paying” fields on her daughter – doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc. When I asked her if that’s what her daughter had interest in she said no. I asked her what the point was of pushing her into something she didn’t want to do, and she responded with, “I just want her to make money. Decent money.”
As someone who got a degree in a field with no expectations of becoming a millionaire I would like to state that money is not everything. A high-paying job means nothing if you are miserable. Parents, please do not force or guilt your children into a major or a career just because you think they are going to make a lot of money. They feel terrible for declaring that major or for taking such jobs just to appease you. The worst part is the feeling of guilt if/when they decide to change their major to something they actually want or they’re quitting that job. No matter how old anyone gets, no one wants to feel like they let down their parents.
Being a part of a generation with parents that want to give absolutely everything to their kids we know that you just want us to be successful, happy and able to support ourselves. Please do not force a career path on your child just because you think they’ll be set for life. Otherwise you could end up having the “You didn’t have the feet, I don’t have the heart” conversation from Center Stage.
High school seniors, please take into account that your parents are trying to do what is best for you but choose a major and a career that will make you happy. You are the one that has to live with those decisions, not them. You are the one that has to take those classes and then go to that job every day, not them.
It takes some getting used to if you choose a career path that isn’t paved with gold. What makes it easier is when you realize that it doesn’t matter.