What if students' parents are pressuring them to major in something more “practical?”

College Experience

Our counselors answered:

What if students' parents are pressuring them to major in something more “practical?”

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

What if students' parents are pressuring them to major in something more “practical?”

You may be facing a fundamental disagreement on the purpose of a college education. Personally, I believe college teaches critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to problem solve, skills which make me a valued employee in most organizations even if my degree says “Art & Art History”. However, I know many people who believe a college degree is a practical tool for employment. In fields like accounting, engineering and architecture a degree in the field is essential. You may find common ground with a double-major, minor, or internship that show there is a practical side to the arts. However, if your parents are diametrically opposed to your major, no amount of persuasion or logic may prevail.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What if students' parents are pressuring them to major in something more “practical?”

Tell the parents to change jobs or careers because in your opinion what they do is no longer practical. Just tell them to chill out - it's your life!

Sarah Glover
Student Mercy College

What if students' parents are pressuring them to major in something more “practical?”

To The Liberal Arts Student: There are two sides to every story, and the ongoing battle between "doing what you love" and your parents wanting you to "find a job that pays" is no exception. First, we need to get some details out of the way. First, your parents are not trying to ruin your life. I promise. I used to think this myself, that they just wanted me to do something that will make me miserable so that I won't enjoy life the way I wanted. That, however, usually isn't true. You have to remember, they've been out in the world for a long time. They've been paying bills, dealing with the IRS, and jumping from job to job for longer than you've been alive(literally). They've seen the ins and outs of being broke, and they don't want you to fall into that as well. They really are(for the most part) trying to protect you from a life living in a refrigerator box somewhere in the slums. Once you understand that, it's easier to approach them in a way that helps them understand exactly why you're passionate about whatever artistic or dramatic interest you want to spend your life doing. Secondly, you need to do some research, and make sure this is really what you want to do with your life. I don't mean that you're not passionate about Art or Creative Writing or Acting or whatever the case may be, but are you willing to be the grunt at some design firm or publishing company for years until you catch your big break? Because that may be how you get started. If you're willing to put in the work for a few years, and still remember how much you loved it, then that's what you're meant to do. Now you need to convince your parents of that fact. First thing you should do is do some research. Mainly, "what can I get paid to do with a *blank* major?" There are several sources for this: a quick Google search will many times tell you anything you need to know. A lot of times, a list will pop up that gives an overview of the jobs that require or will accept a major in a certain field. Sometimes, they will only be marginally related to the field you've chosen(A Human Resources Manager for an English major, for example), but sometimes they will fall precisely in the field of expertise you plan to have when you graduate. Showing these types of lists will help ease the minds of your parents, by showing them that there is money to be made in your chosen profession. All in all, use common sense. If getting an Art degree will open up jobs for you in Web Design, then that will put their minds at rest. However, if all you want to do is draw, as more of a hobby or a side job, it's probably best to find something more lucrative that you're interested in, and minor in Art to satisfy your passion. It's all about finding the right balance.