As a technical/community college instructor of over 35 years, I know a little bit about students and their motivation, career questions, life choices, and challenges. Today on the first day of a new semester, I keep thinking about a young man I spoke with about ten days ago.
This young student and I just happened to be at the same place at the same time. One of my brothers became quite interested in our conversation after he learned that the student goes to Clemson, my brothers’ (both of them) alma mater. Having known something of the young man’s back story, I asked him to tell my brother Mike what he was studying and how he got interested in it. Although super smart and a good student, for a while my young cousin had been going through the paces, attending classes but not really enjoying his studies.
“Actually it was a mentor of mine. He told me that he thought I should consider becoming an engineer since I was good at math.”
“And that’s when you decided to go to Clemson?” Mike asked.
“And what kind of engineering are you studying?” Mike further queried.
“And you like it?”
“I do. And I feel good about it as a career.”
After a few more remarks about how long it would be before graduation, we parted company. Since then, I’ve been thinking about something I’ve thought about time and time again: the importance of choosing the right major, the one that will help a person secure a position in the career field that best suits his/her talents, interests, and intellect.
Often people go into a field because of their parents, a friend, or the desire to make a lot of money. Instead of looking at their own wants and needs, they take the path of least resistance. They might not care one iota about the business world, but someone convinces them that an MBA is the best route to travel. Or nursing. Wow. I can’t count the number of people who’ve shared that they chose the nursing program because of the $$$.
I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. At least not today. Today I just want to encourage anyone who’s wavering between majors, careers, or colleges to put some serious thought into it AND to ask people who know you for input. Seriously, if my young cousin’s mentor/advisor hadn’t made that comment about math, he might have dropped out of college by now…or switched majors a couple of more times just trying to figure out what was best for him.
As I hope you can tell, I’m passionate about student success and the ingredients that go into it. When I write the next edition of Crossing the Bridge: Succeeding in a Community College and Beyond the above story is going to make the cut. http://tinyurl.com/knss3mo