Why You Shouldn't Let Your Parents Pick Your Major

I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve interacted with a little kid, and end up asking them what they want to be when they grow up. You’re most likely going to hear doctor, lawyer, dentist, engineer, etc. But, the chances of hearing musician, actor, entrepreneur, lawnmower, or fast food worker are slim to none. This is possible because of parents shaping their kids to think that those jobs don’t pay a lot, and they should work hard to get ones that do.

My personal storyImage result for following parents footsteps

Coming from a family with strict Indian parents, I can totally relate to having to say that you want to pursue a certain career when you have no interest in at all. Personally, when I was a kid, I would tell everyone I wanted to be a doctor even though I hated blood, looking at images of diseases, and being in the same room as someone sneezing. This all had to do with a fact of my parents telling me that since I liked science this would be a great field for me. Then, after realizing I didn’t qualify for the basic requirements of a doctor, they both came up with their own careers for me. My mom wants me to become a teacher because I am patient, kind, and good at teaching others. My dad wants me to pursue something in accounting and finance because it is a useful skill. But, I realized if I pursued these, I would follow their footsteps and end up living a life that they wanted not that I want. I am still going to explore these fields, but I don’t believe that you should pick your major based on your parents' desire.

Does money mean everything?

So many kids end up becoming doctors and engineers simply because their parents think they will make a huge income. With a large income comes the ability to afford expensive clothes, a big house, nice dinners, the ability to afford insurance, being respected in society, being able to travel the world, etc. But, money doesn’t buy happiness, it’s the people you surround yourself with and your passion for what you are doing that will make you feel joy. For example, if you pursue becoming a lawyer, then you end up marrying someone that fits your personality that your parents helped you decide, and then get children because your parents told you that was the next step, are you ever going to make decisions on your own? What happens when they aren’t alive to tell you what the next step is? Parents believe it is their duty to protect their children and guide them to make good decisions, but I think they should suggest ideas rather than enforce them. If you pursue something that you are not passionate about, you will end up living the rest of your life wondering how a different career could have turned out and miserable in the current job that you are in. 

Have a Backup PlanImage result for bill gates parents event

I do agree that you should pick a major that guarantees a large percentage of job certainty but I don’t think that it should solely be based on the income. Although becoming an entrepreneur will not be easy, it doesn’t mean that it is not possible, it just might take a longer time. I mean, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and owns over $1 billion from Microsoft, I’m sure his parents weren’t on board with the idea but look at him now. If you want to become an actor, have a backup plan such as a teacher during the week, and audition for roles on the weekend, instead of becoming a barista making minimum wage in a city like Los Angeles where everything is expensive. There are so many people who end up majoring in something like history and end up becoming comedians that tour the world.

In the end, it all comes down to making a plan and figuring out the best ways to help you achieve your goals while having a side/backup plan if it doesn’t work out. 

HCXO