The rest of your life
We're getting ready for Welcome Week at UCD. It's really more like Welcome Month for our on-campus freshmen bible study leaders. They'll be making the big push to get connected to people in the dorms. Sleep, eat, breathe, and live the dorms. Extrovert's dream come true or introvert's worst nightmare.
There are all these welcome events and inevitably we'll be running down the list of "Where are you from?" and "What's your major?" And inevitably I'll come across a college student who's trying to make the right decision about their major so they don't ruin the rest of their lives... or so they say.
Some years ago I had a really interesting conversation with my aunt, who has a more American perspective on life than my parents - she immigrated as a teen. We were talking about the pressures my dad was giving me about going to grad school and doing something "useful" because everyone knows you can't feed yourself with degrees in English and History.
My aunt pointed out that my generation had very different opportunities than her immigrant peers. Back then, she said, the only options open to Chinese Americans were engineers, doctors, lawyers, or businessmen... and engineers. The time is different, new career paths are open, and success is not limited to the aforementioned careers. I ate it up and I continue to encourage students that it is okay to try an out of the box major like, heaven forbid, Sociology.
Our culture has also shifted in that our majors no longer relate to our careers. Back then, most people had specific majors that directed their job options. They found a job and more or less stayed in the job with the same company until retirement. Nowadays I find that most people aren't doing things related to their degrees, even engineers and economics majors. On top of that, people in our generation change jobs or careers every 3-5 years. If you've been at a job for 10 years, you're considered a veteran.
I have some favorite mantras I like to tell students, and this is probably one of them. Another one goes something like, "Don't should on yourself." I'll try to remind myself to elaborate on this in the future.