Did you ever suggest your kids should seek degrees that would offer better paying jobs?

In the better interest of keeping the the thread about recent grads affording housing on topic…I’m starting this thread to discuss this.

I’ll start.

One of my kids is a freelance musician. He has a number of things he does to fully support himself. He has never asked us for a dime, but we do give him money gifts because we would rather see him enjoy his inheritance than get it after we are gone. It never dawned on us to suggest he pursue a higher income career/major in college. We are pleased and proud of his accomplishments. He has both a bachelors and masters in music performance.

Our second kid got a degree in engineering…added a second major in biology. She will never be an engineer…loved the courses but hated the idea of working in that field. Frankly, her older sibling (the musician) has a better quality of life than this kid does. In this one’s case, income shouldn’t be an issue (eventually), but I think any other career would have been a good choice. Professional school debt is there, and income right now is pretty low per hour (think 80-90 hours of work every week in a high pressure situation for $60,000 a year…it’s about $13 per hour).

But I need to add….these kids both made their college major and career decisions themselves. If they asked us, we offered advice. Otherwise…it was up to them.

In both cases, we have gifted larger money amounts to these kids…because we can…and as I said…we want to see them enjoy what we give them.

ETA…in both cases, personal finance and courses related to their careers and money were required as part of their degree program.

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Interesting question. We have actually not but guided the kids more to careers that would lead to better life enjoyment and personal fulfillment. The past few years have certainly shown us that working for money is not making for a good life, but this is certainly coming from a place of enormous privilege since we can also help support them if needed.

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I never suggested a course of study based on career pay, but I did suggest that my kid take a few classes that might be relevant when he did get a job - financial accounting, intro to programming. Not that he’d ever be an accountant or programmer but that having a basic understanding of these topic could be of use to a kid whose interests were likely to be more business related. I encouraged him to have a proficiency in another language for the same reason.

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We did not influence our kids’ choice of studies. My nephew was pushed into a degree field by his parents, and he never finished college. He has struggled financially since. H & his buddies, all engineers, got excited every time one of their kids chose to study engineering - but while they secretly rolled their eyes at other choices their kids made, they didn’t try to influence those choices.

D wanted to work in the business end of the music industry but changed her mind after a couple internships. She studied what she enjoyed, getting a degree in Medicine, Health & Society. She works in healthcare consulting, likes the work, and has moved up steadily.

My S struggled with his choice of major, mostly because he would have preferred to skip college and play in a metal band. He chose not to do that by himself, but it was a real internal struggle for him. He considered pharmacy, but he decided he didn’t want to take so many chemistry classes. He ended up majoring in biology, mostly because he enjoyed the classes. He is now doing well in a growing field, working as a (of course!) chemist.

Both kids are able to support themselves, which is what we had hoped for them. We have always had what we needed but not everything we wanted, and our kids had friends who had less & friends who had more. Neither ever expected us to help them financially in adulthood, so they have always adjusted their lives to their financial reality.

Ours chose their vocations, with some advice about finding the intersection of talent, interest, and practicality (5’9" guys with a BMI of 20 are not actually going to play in the NHL). Life and circumstances sorted out the rest.

We did try to make sure they had plenty of experiences as teens that would help them figure all that out — what am I good at? what am I bad out? – They both have landed successfully in careers that suit them, but they’ll never be wealthy. I did push my creative to augment that with a practical major (in their case, that was business), which turned out to be appealing to employers.

Two of their friends were absolutely sure of their hard science career path, landed several job offers, made buckets of money for 3 yearsand then both of them quit because they hated the actual work. They are both unemployed, living off their earnings while they figure it out.

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in reaction to how i grew up - poor, but happy, - with a starving MFA artist father in a rural area - we really encouraged our #2 to not major in art, but have art as a hobby. Even my father agreed. She’s studying architecture, and likes it; got a minor in art.

MY 80 yr old dad is still doing pottery and loves it; hopefully she will turn to her hobby more as she ages.

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I am a career nomad who has had three distinct careers to date, and have enjoyed each of them.

My view is that for most people, there are multiple careers they could enjoy. My advice to my kids is to choose the best paying career among those they would enjoy.

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My son spent his childhood sure he would grow up to be a Power Ranger. His sister made sure to tell him he couldn’t do that every chance she got!

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We did not tell our kids what to major in or what career path to choose.

I suggested to my older one that she choose a major she enjoys and that will allow her to support herself (she asked my opinion). She is in an education field (not a classroom teacher) and is very happy. She supports herself in an expensive city.

My other child knew her major (biology) but wasn’t sure of a career path. This drove me crazy but I tried to keep quiet. Looking back… I now realize it’s ok not to know your path. I advised her to choose a career that will allow her to live the life she wants, and she did. She worked for a few years, lived in an expensive city, saved a decent amount of money (not a spender) and is now back in school.

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Wouldn’t the actual questions of relevance be the following?

  • Does the kid have high or low spending habits?
  • Is the kid aware of job and career prospects and pay levels when choosing a career path and college major?
  • Is the kid aware of competition levels in various career paths? (e.g. is it elite or bust, and if it is, what happens to those who bust?)

Someone with low spending habits has more choices of career paths that are sustainable from a personal finance point of view than someone with high spending habits.

Some career paths may also require greater parental subsidy when entry level jobs are unpaid internships. Such paths are less accessible to those whose parents do not have money to give.

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My kids are in their 20’s and are done with roommates (had enough of it). They are living alone until they choose to live with a significant other.

That’s something to consider when choosing a career. Some may be fine with roommates- mine got tired of it fairly quickly. Spending habits are also very important.

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I posted on the other thread that while we didn’t discourage our D, plenty of other people in that field told her if she had another passion/interest to do that instead.

Our expectation as parents are that we would fully pay for any college and grad school but that our D would need to be self supporting after that.

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No.

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No. I spent the first 5 years out of college working in a field in which I felt I was pushed into and hated it. I would not do that to my kids.
I know several young people who were pushed into high paying careers (IT, engineering, Finance,law) and are miserable. Or have abandoned those careers. For some those jobs are a great fit and they do well and thrive personally, but not everyone.

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My daughter grew up watching both her father and I in the same field, and she is entering that field as well. While we would advise her against it, we figured that she has watched us, listened to us complain at the dinner table, had high school jobs in the field, etc… so she has seen enough to know what she is getting herself into, so we kept our mouths shut when she announced her plans.

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I agree that kids need to find their own paths and not be pushed into something, but it’s also good for them to understand the realities of their decisions.

I know plenty of friends who have adult kids living in their basements because they aren’t self supporting. No one is happy with the arrangement and it’s causing a lot of stress.

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Absolutely. My kids understood what things cost, what they wanted as adults in terms of lifestyle, and what careers would best enable that. They expected to be self-supporting out of college and pursued paths accordingly.

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no, but I have made sure my D20 is well-aware her chosen major (SW) isn’t likely to lead to a financially lucrative career, and advised her to plan accordingly. She is really not a spender at all, will graduate debt-free and will have the option to earn her MSW for free (through my employer), so she and I feel confident in her ability to support herself.

Edited to add: my D24 has expressed a desire to find a lucrative career…she has expensive tastes, LOL. To that end, we’ve had a lot of discussions about interests and career paths and compensation.

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We do not. We focus on employability and skill sets. But we will influence our kids’ degrees. Not because we are STEM =$$$, but because there is no trust fund waiting for them and they have to be employable. I grew up working class with parents with no college degrees and while I ended up ok with my humanities degrees, the robust job market has a lot to do with that. For the amount of money spent on college, there needs to be a practical career consideration there.

One of our kids is a hermit, and one is a hustler. I would not advocate the hermit to enter into a field that only those who hustle their craft can survive. That’s what minors or double majors are for.

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We never influenced the actual major or job but I made it clear that I would fully support him through college and intend to have him graduate without any debt. And that is all…at that stage he would be expected to take care of himself. Obviously he is welcome to stay with us as needed but he would be expected to work.

I spoke often of relatives, etc that chose degrees and then graduated without looking for jobs while in college via the career center and were surprised they could not get a job in their field.

So I think I influenced him for sure.

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