Advice for College Freshmen: Play it Safe or Follow your Passion?
A rainbow of purple, yellow, white or green caps and gowns have marched across many stages this spring. Maybe you were fortunate enough to hang a Congratulations Graduate banner above your own doorway. We still have about 4 years left before it’s our turn to cheer our oldest as she walks across the stage to graduate high school. But, as fast as crawling, walking and middle school crept upon us, I expect it will not be long before she and I are hunting the stores for the perfect comforter set and matching rugs to ensure her dorm room feels like home away from home. One things for sure, when the times comes to send her to college we will have to provide her with more than a stockpile of non-perishable snacks and hair care products to last her until Thanksgiving. Before the hunt for matching comforter sets and non-perishable snacks, my husband and I will be faced with the extremely daunting task of guiding her into a major to pursue. Helping to choose a college major ranks up there with imparting the importance of character, vegetables and books. It is like the final-Jeopardy round where the question is: what do you want to be when you grow up? This week the tween to-be in our house wants to be a lawyer. A few months ago it was a musician and before that a chef. I relish in her search to find her niche. I can almost hear the Disney theme song, When You Wish Upon a Star, playing in her head as she rattles off what she will do once she graduates from college and becomes rich. I do my best to insert reality into her twelve year old mind. But it is not always easy. For example: 12 y.o.: ‘I want to move to N.Y.!’ Me.: ‘N.Y. is expensive’. 12 y.o.: “It’s not thaaat expensive.’ 12 y.o.: ‘I want a car.’ Me: ‘A car is expensive’. 12y.o: ‘I know. I’ll just get a job.’ While I am certain of the benefits of organic foods and bedtime stories I am less than certain about what type of college major advice to dispense to any of my children. For instance,
- I don’t want to dash their career dreams, but at the same time the Black-White wealth gap is real and widening and the gender pay gap is not much better.
- If they choose a liberal arts degree African Americans who major in this field earn an average salary of $40,000. (While White American liberal arts degree holders, however, can expect an average of $50,000.).
- If they choose a major like engineering they can expect a median salary of $55,000 upon graduating, while graduates with a degree in the arts median salary is $30,000
What kind of college major advice do you plan on giving to your children?