Parents pressuring sister to major in "something useful".

<p>My sister will be headed to college in the fall of 2011, and my parents are exhibiting much anxiety over the process - even more so than when I applied nearly two years ago. Partially, this is because my sister's statistics are weaker than when I applied, and also, because she doesn't harbor any interest in any pre-professional field whatsoever.</p>

<p>Like me, my sister has elected to stay local. She will be applying primarily to local schools in the Boston metropolitan area. Her statistics are nothing remarkable: 3.4 GPA, 1700 SAT (which she will retake in the fall), etc. She rarely involved in school either. </p>

<p>However, my parents are pressuring my sister to choose a "useful" major already. Problem is, my sister exhibits no interest in any pre-professional field whatsoever, be that business, law, engineering, medicine, accounting, hotel management, etc. She doesn't exhibit much interest in any subject of the liberal arts either, for she hates math/science and can't seemingly write an academic paper to save her life. </p>

<p>The only thing which has interested her so far is film studies. My sister is a huge film buff, but exhibits no interest in filmmaking. My parents warn her that studying film "is a waste of time", unless she wants to actually learn about the film making process and apply such knowledge to an actual job. </p>

<p>My parents fear that she will major in something "useless" and be unemployable. To this end, I am urging my parents not to worry so much, while encouraging my sister to declare no major when she enrolls. </p>

<p>Problem is, I worry a little myself. My sister isn't exactly an ambitious type, and when she's not in school, she spends all day watching films from the 1940's/1950's. She is a very quiet type and doesn't have many friends either.</p>

<p>Any advice on how to deal with this? My parents have many other worries as well (another one being her grades/SAT scores), but this worry is their primary one.</p>

<p>My simple response...she needs to discover (on her own) what she likes and what she wants to pursue. </p>

<p>College is indeed, in part about getting a job at the end of four or more years. However, it should also be a time for self discovery and personal growth. Such development cannot occur very effectively or at all if a student is doing a parent's bidding. There is nothing wrong with developing her interests in film. Will she be a female Spielberg? Who knows. Who cares. She gets to have her chance to just 'be'. They should work on letting go and realizing that if they are unable to do so the consequences can be rather sad and wasteful. They need to overcome this 'micromanagement' tendency fast...what will they do when they are empty nesters? Yikes!!! Good luck to you and your sister. Just remember, on the first day of college/university some huge percentage of the entering classes at US colleges and universities are pre-med and a bunch are pre-law. One chemistry test later that number plummets and each year it dwindles dramatically. The only way to succeed at pre-anything is to do something you which you personally value, not for someone else.</p>

<p>Being able to support yourself is a real consideration. "Following your passion" is great, but your chances of earning an income with a film degree are not good. Not a popular thing to hear, but talk to some kids who just graduated with degrees in international relations and are living in their parents basements.</p>

<p>I would urge your sister to take an interest and aptitude test and to start thinking about options about what to do when she grows up. Perhaps you could brainstorm with her also about her personality and what she likes. Does she like people? Details? Animals? Graphic art? Lab work? Selling things? Organizing? Writing?
What is it about film that she likes? Could this be applied to anything else?
Most people can do any number of things and be happy, but I can perfectly understand your parents' practical orientation in this situation. And, just because she prepares for a particular career does not mean that she has to stay in that job for the rest of her life!</p>

<p>I'm with your parents. If she can't find something marketable that she enjoys unless she gets a scholarship, I don't think it's a good idea to saddle herself with debt without a source of income. She can try something vocational - like a tech in the medical field - that while she may not have passion for it, will pay the bills until she finds herself.</p>

<p>That's not a bad idea, levirm. I'll try giving her a Myer-Briggs test. </p>

<p>
[quote]
What is it about film that she likes? Could this be applied to anything else?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>She can recall her favorite scenes with great detail. She is also good at identifying a film's motifs (which unfortunately doesn't extend to literature or books). </p>

<p>I find it hard how her enthusiasm about film can be transferred to anything else... She usually doesn't like to read unless it's a book related to a favorite film/play of her's. Even though she loves watching films with a historical/cultural context, she doesn't like current affairs or history either. I tried to make her read the New York Times once, and she tossed it back at me, claiming how "boring" it was.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, her passion for film appears to be mostly passive. She enjoys film, but she doesn't seem to quite appreciate the degree of effort that is put into making such films. </p>

<p>My parents are just worried because she is very passive. In their eyes, passivity doesn't translate into success for the future. To that end, I don't quite blame them. </p>

<p>I don't know. I am slightly worried that she'll do little in college besides going to class and watching her movies, which may inhibit her ability to discover more interests.</p>

<p>Sounds like she shouldn't be going to college. Someone needs to deliver pizzas.</p>

<p>There is a career book (probably more than one) for Myers-Briggs and it is interesting. I have no idea what the title is, but it was in the bookstore near the other job search books (near What Color is Your Parachute?).</p>

<p>When my DD headed off to college with the goal of majoring in Japanese, I said something like: "I know you want to go to college and learn and expand your wonderful knowledge base, but the real reason you are going to college is so that you can get a
J-O-B after you graduate. So learn Japanese and major in it if you like, but major in something else too." She listened and Japanese may end up being a minor or part of an East Asian studies certificate.</p>

<p>A language isn't a particularly bad choice for a major though. For one, it's an actual job skill, and it requires focus and effort in order to master. Watching movies without trying to understand anything about their content or how they're made isn't really though.</p>

<p>Has your sister ever held a summer job? What did she do, and did she like it?</p>

<p>This sounds like a kid that should go to an affordable college. hat will give her some time to take varius classes and discover interests without too much pressure.</p>

<p>MD Mom may be thinking of Do What You Are.</p>

<p>I would encourage her to go to college without incurring debt. I wonder if she wouldn't love to work on films-- like in costume design or something like that. I don't know how one does that out of Boston but it sounds to me like she could enjoy history, American studies or sociology. Give her some time but encourage her to do it without debt so she can keep her options open.</p>

<p>Sounds like she might be a late bloomer. I doubt all this nagging and worrying on your parents' part is helping her become more motivated, if anything, it probably makes her more resistant. I can understand that your parents are concerned about her not taking advantage of college, but she is really too young and inexperienced to start thinking about her future in such a focused way. I know there are many young people on this board who have it all figured out, but they are definitely the exception. I guess I don't have any helpful suggestion other than try backing off. It sounds like you, and your parents, are hovering over her and no matter how well meaning, this will probably make someone like your sister shut down even more. She really does have time, still.</p>

<p>By the way, your parents need not worry about her stats. Her gpa and SAT scores are above average and she could probably get accepted into most colleges in the country. Does she <em>want</em> to go to college? It may be worthwhile to find a job, live at home and just take a few college courses locally until she figures out what to do. I know quite a few people who didn't figure out what they wanted until they were in the workplace. Often, their jobs inspire them. Frankly, right now, assuming she has taken decent courses, there is nothing holding her back from going to college. If she were pushed into going away, she may not do very well and then there will be barriers to transferring etc. It sounds like I'm being over-dramatic but, really, without mom and dad around, a lot of kids lose motivation and drop out because of poor grades.</p>

<p>This sounds to me like a kid that needs to be plucked out of her shell a bit...if she were mine, a summer job would be a must (preferably not in a theater or video store, although those seem like obvious good choices), even a volunteer job where she has to interact with others would be better than letting her immerse herself in movies at the expense of living her own story! If she has the slightest interest in any career field, setting up a shadowing opportunity would go a long way in moving her mental process toward evaluating what her true skills/talents/desires may be. It may be that she is already thinking of this and still waters simply run deep...most kids try on different personas/scenarios in their minds first but many are not inclined to vocalize them to their families.</p>

<p>My sister will be doing an internship at a local banking firm this summer, courtesy of her high school. She heard about people making $2500 a summer off such an internship, so she just applied and got in (from what I heard, everyone who applied got in). I'm guessing most of the funds will be used to expand her DVD collection.</p>

<p>She did this same internship last summer as well. There wasn't much heavy lifting with this internship. She filed papers and corrected presentations for typos. Half the time, she just surfed the Internet. I asked her if working at a bank made her more interested in finance/accounting, but she just shrugged and claimed that she wouldn't understand any of it anyways if she tried to study it.</p>

<p>My parents thought she might be interested in finance/accounting because of her experiences at a bank, but I guess they were wrong.</p>

<p>First, although it is wonderful of you to worry about your sister, your posts do not show a lot of respect for her. Since this also seems to be the case with your parents, I am wondering if she will have a better chance at blossoming once out of the house.</p>

<p>Since your sister appears to have an encyclopedic memory about films, and a lot of discernment and insight about them, I would suggest she has some hidden and unrecognized gifts. Perhaps it would help her in the context of family perceptions of her, to have some testing that would reveal these gifts. Or, perhaps life will reveal them as she progresses through college.</p>

<p>The only other thing I will say is that all this emphasis on college as preparation for careers is relatively recent, and sometimes misguided. Aside from my "soft" objections to this idea (meaning learning for learning's sake, time to explore oneself and so on), there are "hard' objections to it too: most people don't end up working in anything near their major. A BA is a BA, and with a BA, one can apply to any job with that requirement, orto graduate school for that matter.</p>

<p>Also, the real job market doesn't fall into neat categories that can be entered with specific college studies. Yes, business, human services, medical technician, hospitality and other vocational fields may help kids enter the job market, but often at a much lower level than those who study humanities, arts or sciences. I think it is sometimes too bad to narrow one's focus too early in life, and it is good to "wander wisely" ( a term I recently) a bit.</p>

<p>For strictly vocational courses, community colleges are often a great resource. I would consider doing something there, even after getting a BA.</p>

<p>In the meantime, I think your sister sounds like a secretly cool person with some cool interests, and hope that she is allowed to go to a liberal arts school and find out, herself, what she wants to study. Maybe with a major in film, media analysis, screen studies, writing, English, American Studies, popular culture studies, etc. Job concerns can be taken care of in summers, as she is doing now, with the internship at the bank.</p>

<p>With the recession, tuition and loans, it is understandable that money issues are foremost in our minds for our children (or siblings). But we have to take a longer view and understand that college does so much more for people than just get them a job.</p>

<p>Your sister's grades and SAT's sound perfectly decent by the way. Maybe she can pull the SAT's up a bit. But often these external indicators do not accurately predict people's skills or their future prospects. People grow up to surprise everyone. (My own brother was an abyssmal failure in high school, and is now vice president of a national tv network). Have faith and communicate it to your sister!</p>

<p>I wish parents would remember that there are thousands of kinds of jobs, and I'd bet more than half of them don't have a corresponding college degree. </p>

<p>I was an old movie buff in HS, and I'm sure my mother worried because I spent all day every Sunday (and often way late at night) glued to those old movies (in the days when you could only watch them when they were on TV). More than once she trundled me off to a revival movie house because I was in a bad mood and they were showing my favorite Katharine Hepburn movie! I still love them, but I've found my work in life through many different paths.</p>

<p>So I can appreciate your sister. I second the person who said she could do a lot with this interest, even if she isn't another Speilberg. Why does everyone have to be something "big"? Have your parents look a the credits of the next movie they watch. Dozens of people worked on it - costumes, furnishings, design, research. People write about films, talk about films, turn this interest into a myriad of paying jobs. Why not? </p>

<p>But it doesn't have to, either. She may go to college, take her gen ed classes, get involved in the old movie club, meet some people, open some doors, and find herself doing all kinds of things - maybe even accounting after all!</p>

<p>I worry my kids won't have good paying jobs, who doesn't? I have one who wants to be a theater major, how about that? - but I could never, ever ask, let alone force, her to study what doesn't matter to her. If she needs a quick professional degree or certificate later, so be it (both of my brothers got teaching certification after a BA; I'm betting money this one will, too). </p>

<p>I hope your sister gets a chance to explore. And thank you for being so caring - and not letting your parents' attitude pull you in too much.</p>

<p>Funny my husband and I were just talking about this yesterday as our college sophmore, well, actually now he's a junior announced he'd like to double major in film. His first major is in Portuguese. Yikes! Where will he get a job? I don't have a clue. But we're going to hold our breath and support him because one of two things will happen, he will either be successful and complete both majors (he says he can do it with little or no extra semesters) or he'll learn that it is difficult to be a famous film director. We live in CA and he attends a UC and that system does not set you up to be a "....." when you are done. It does however set you up to go to grad school or to find a job in which your knowlege and undergrad research can be applied. Your sister will find her way. Hopefully she's a good worker at her internship job and can use her recommendations from that job to get another internship once at college. I can remember not knowing what I was going to college for exactly-just heading there because I was supposed to. Once I got to college the world opened up for me and I realized I was good at showing others how to do things, organize events etc. I'm a teacher now but didn't plan to be at 17-I was going to be a veterinarian-but one Chem class did change that :) Encourage her to go away from home so she HAS to make her way. Then support her decisions even if they look a little iffy.</p>

<p>Your sister's GPA and SATs are very good. Clearly she has some intellectual ability and works hard. My kids worked darned hard and couldn't make a 3.5. And she does have a passion. (film)</p>

<p>I know a son of a neighbor who has identical interests and ,unlike your sister, his GPA is below a 3. But his mom, neighbors and guidance counselor have been very supportive of his interest in film. He will be attending a community college in the fall to improve his grades. His guidance counselor has encouraged him to take classes in literature, creative writing, and visual arts. His guidance counselor also helped him land a job in the fall as an unpaid intern for a local film production company (they do commercials and public safety announcements). Note that an interest in film can lead to many paths (editing, photography, playwright, costume, set design, journalism, public relations, communication, marketing,...OK I could go on and on)</p>

<p>To encourage his interest in film, his mom got him a video camera. She also purchased software to edit film and add music. She is also encouraging him to write movie reviews and submit them to local papers. My H set up blogging software for him so he could blog about his thoughts on film. Although this young man's grades were not so hot, he wrote two plays and directed one of them for his high school.</p>

<p>I agree that your sis should not go into debt to study film; however there are many exciting career paths for her. And the world does need people like her.</p>