“I’m not paying for some frivolous degree.” Tom, a parent of student from East Lyme, Connecticut said about a decade ago. I remember the tension in the room. My work as a college counselor is designed to help parents/students reach their goals. My preferences are not part of the mix or I’ll simply state my biases if that’s the case. In this case, I remember thinking that I had some general agreement with Tom’s conclusion but I realized that he way of conveying his thoughts were not helpful to his family dynamic as I watched his son – who had expressed an interest in history – shrivel in his chair.
I’m an idealist. But I’m really a practical idealist. I tell our college counseling clients that I do not burst bubbles but I also am not in the business of creating starving artists. Another college counseling client from East Lyme was hoping I would convince his daughter not to major in Spanish, particularly because she was not interested in teaching. He couldn’t see how she would be hired by anyone. I get it. But my work in the college to career front is present the facts and then in the context of the facts provide advice. “Here are the challenges of majoring in Spanish. Here are the opportunities and here’s what might make sense if you choose to major in Spanish.”
The work world has shifted considerably in the last decade with trends that were accelerated by Covid.
“College” should now be considered “college-career” for many. This does not discount all the amazing experiential aspects of college life. Those are highly important.
But it does mean that thinking through career issues should also be part of the college counseling process.