How many people actually do what they went to school for?

“Did you hear back from colleges yet?” I asked one of my tutoring students as I flipped through her file. “Yes, I got into three, but am still waiting for responses from a couple,” she replied.

“What major did you say you were going for?” I asked after realizing I hadn’t noted it anywhere.  “Engineering,” she said with a depressing tone – one of almost utter defeat.

“Well, you don’t sound too thrilled about it!” I exclaimed.  “I’m not,” she laughed.  “So why did you pick it?”  “Well, I like science and math, and so engineering made sense.  But when I read the descriptions of the programs, they sounded boring.  But my dad’s an engineer, so he’s kind of pushing for it.”

I was about to tell her that she’s the one who will have to work in that field, not her father, so it’s she who should like it.  But then I caught myself and realized she doesn’t even have to work in the field she gets her degree in (I was living proof of this!).  Then, I went back even further and realized she doesn’t even have to choose that major!

As my mind raced with how best to share these thoughts, she offered, “but all these schools have other programs that interest me, too, like Marine Biology.”

“Oh good,” I said with a sigh of relief, “so you could switch if you find you don’t like engineering.”

I proceeded to tell her a little of my story.  I told her that I knew in my sophomore year that I didn’t want to be a physical therapist, but up until that point I’d never done anything against my parents wishes.  And my parents wished I’d stay in the PT program.  As with many people, she was surprised to hear my degree was in physical therapy.  Probably because I was tutoring her in Calculus.  Two subjects not so clearly related….

So I took this as another one of those “everything happens for a reason” times.  Honestly, I didn’t think I was doing so well at helping her with Calculus and was contemplating passing her off to another tutor.  Whether I do that or not, I realize the reason our paths crossed may not have been for Calculus help at all.

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One thought on “How many people actually do what they went to school for?

  1. You make such a valid point here. How many people do what they went to school to learn? I think it is ridiculous to think a nineteen year old has any idea who he wants to spend his entire life.
    And even if he/she changes majors as a Junior, can a person know withou having had experience in the field?
    I know a journalism major who is a pharmaceutical rep who says he should have been a business major. Gosh, it is hard to know at such a young age. And it is sad that parents push kids into doing what the parents want instead of what the student wants.
    I enjoyed reading this.

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