“What Are You Going to Study?”

4 Feb

Hands down that’s the most commonly asked question of my daughter after learning where she is attending college this fall.  It’s a logical follow-up question and it also signals a shift of attention to the next stage in her young life.  That question is just as important as where one goes to college; some would argue it is more important.

Right now when asked, she just shrugs; she doesn’t know.  Recently, the value of a liberal arts education has come under scrutiny (see articles like this), especially in a struggling economy.  But for someone who doesn’t know what she wants to study, a liberal arts education makes sense.  It will give her a well-rounded foundation of knowledge from which she can discover and pursue her interests while developing critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills (if that sounds like it came from a college brochure, I think I have internalized all that marketing spiel; I didn’t plagiarize, honest.)  Seriously though, the choice of major is frequently intertwined with later career choices and these days, what parents of college students, even the most relaxed ones, do not fret just an iota, about whether their children will be able to find meaningful employment?

When it comes to our children, there’s always something over which to wring our hands.  One mother recently related how her college-aged son talked about perhaps becoming a musician: “We’re going to need a talk with him about that.”  From the roll of her eyes and the skeptical tone in her voice, I can tell that there will be many “talks” in that family.  I suspect there may be such “talks” with my daughter in future about career choices and I suppose I could worry about that now.  But I will fight that urge.  I believe a liberal arts education will help her uncover her strengths and passions almost as much as I believe in a God that has created her for purposes the discovery of which will be her life journey.  So I will trust and not worry.

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2 Responses to ““What Are You Going to Study?””

  1. Tiger February 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM #

    I would like to be supportive of this perspective, but I cannot. Don’t all kids have some level of preference for either sciences, math, or language arts, for example? Unless funds are unlimited, I would not support a liberal arts, undecided approach to college; it is simply too expensive. If a student excels at art, shouldn’t they start in maybe graphic arts with a business minor? If a student loved biology, why not encourage that from the onset? Seeking out colleges that are better suited to your child’s tendencies seems more effective to me. Broad-base liberal arts educations are terrific if you know you want to pursue a master’s degree, but not all kids want to face that coming out of high school — and why should they/

  2. rufus jones February 7, 2012 at 3:43 PM #

    This is most certainly a timely topic, almost straight from the headlines. Although your blog is filled with wisdom I still enjoy the wee witticisms you inject in your articles!

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