Have you ever gone to job websites (Monster, Career Builder, Craigslist, etc.) and noticed which types of jobs have the most listings? The least listings?
Have you ever looked at the job market for what your student is interested in pursuing? Even better, has your student researched the job?
Very often, students are told to follow their passion when thinking of a college major or a career.
At first glance, this seems like good advice.
Follow your heart, do what you love. But what happens when following your passion leads to no job opportunities or low wages? Assuming you have student loans, how do you pay those?
Help your students think about pursuing practical skills that will lead to a job that pays a decent salary.
My three oldest children have graduated college with four year degrees. One has a Master's degree in Engineering, one is in the second year of a Physician's Assistant Master's program, and one has a dual degree in Piano Performance and English.
My son, with the dual Liberal Arts degree, after being out of school for over a year, has come to this conclusion:
"If I were 18 again, and had the same knowledge then that I do now about the job market and "real life" and what an undergraduate liberal arts degree (or even two of them) means for a 22 or 23-year old without a lot of work experience, I wouldn't make the same choice that I did. I have no regrets about having spent four years and a summer getting a BA and a BM — I think it was time well spent — but do I wish I had something else, like an engineering or computer science degree? Yes."
He could have taken some programming classes while in college. He could have majored in some kind of computer science or engineering instead of English.If he had added some practical courses to his college education he would have more employment opportunities available to him.
At 17 or 18 years old your student is not thinking about 6-10 years down the road. They cannot really envision what life in the ‘real adult’ world requires. Help them think about what that might look like.
The big mistake many college students make is not considering the ‘real adult’ world after college.
In the ‘real adult’ world, there are bills to pay, food to buy, insurance to procure; the list seems never-ending. Having a job that allows a young adult to be self-supporting is beneficial in the real world.
If a student has no in demand skills, if they have a pre-unemployment degree (one that does not lead to a job), they are going to find the ‘real’ world to be very difficult.
They don’t want that, and as the parent, you don’t want that.
Encourage your student to not make this big mistake.
Even if they do follow their passion, encourage them to add a minor, second major, or just electives in a marketable skill.
If their ‘passion’ doesn’t really require a college degree, can they create their own job by turning their skills and passion into a business? Maybe a few business courses would benefit their dream.
I think the time has come to stop telling students to pursue their passion and dream even if it doesn't result in a job. It is time to be realistic and encourage them to add marketable skills to their passion if that passion isn't in demand in the job market.
If you are not going to college to get a job what are you going for? To get in debt?