Yesterday, new stats were released that categorize earnings of college majors from most profitable to least. My husband wasted no time pointing out to me that our daughter was leaning toward choosing a major that wouldn’t earn her a lot of money. According to the findings my son who is headed toward computer science will do great, and my artsy future theater major will be pinching pennies. So is it my job as a parent to influence them otherwise? I don’t know.
I remember being in the 8th grade and announcing that I wanted to study architecture at the local trade high school, and then go to a trade college to be a building designer. My parents balked. Their first problem was that I was too bright to go to a trade college, and then… brace yourself, they informed me that “black girls don’t become architects”. Yes, this was quite a while ago, but it still stings. It also made me change my course. I went to a traditional high school and did very well. My elective for all four years was art (closely related to drafting), and I got accepted into excellent liberal arts colleges and one awesome art college on full scholarship. My parents balked again. They insisted that since I did well in my Intro to Law and Mock Trial Classes that I take up political science. I lasted one semester before dropping out. When I did go back to college a year later, it was to get the paralegal degree they insisted on, followed by the Art and literature degree, I wanted. So am I happy? No. I feel that the interference and misdirection in my college career caused a lot of wasted money, wasted time, and that I lost the momentum that I would have had if I’d taken the original route I chose. If not at the trade high school, then at least at the full ride scholarship to the art school.
So here I am many years later, writing Internet content for a living and painting in my spare time. I am not really bitter, as I know I will eventually become a full time artist, and part time writer. Maybe it was meant to happen this way. But still, I know my parents were wrong to try to push me into a career for which I had little interest and no passion at all. With that in mind, I am refusing to tell my daughter that a major in performing arts is the wrong thing for her. I am willing however, to make sure she has a minor or second major that is related to the first, but more profitable… in her case, she I am advocating for costuming and fashion design. This is her second area of interest and not something that I think might be a good fit for her.
Still, as a parent there is that fear that I may be feeding illusions of success in theater or design. As long as it is her decision in the end, however, then she won’t be bitter that I steered her in the wrong direction.