Freshman Daughter, Freshman Dad

By Larry Druckenbrod

As his only child embarks on her collegiate journey, a freshman parent chronicles the experience—40 years on from his own days as a college freshman. Larry Druckenbrod is also assistant director of Career Services.

Dad, what should I major in?

As I was preparing to head off to college I asked my dad “what should I major in?”

Earlier this summer my department put a little video together to use with parents during freshman orientation, and you can hear my father’s advice.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X70przt4hAQ

We’ve seen a ton of students in our office over the last couple of weeks.  It’s time to pick classes for next semester.  The freshmen are worried because they don’t know what to major in.  The sophomores are worried because they don’t know what to major in and they’re almost done taking the gen eds.  The juniors are worried because their last three majors didn’t work out so well.  The seniors….they have a major like it or lump it and they’re worried about finding a job.

When I was a senior and graduation was looming I had to face the grim reality that I too was going to have to leave college and find a job.  All my friends from freshman year were already gone because I took that little trip to Mexico instead of starting my sophomore year.  It occurred to me that I didn’t want to leave college.  I liked college.  Not the classes so much mind you, but just college, the college life.  The late night card games of set back and hearts, the late morning wake ups, cool music from rooms on the hall, and cool friends.  College was very cool and “I’m not leaving” I decided.  I asked my boss “how can I stay in college forever?”  He said “get a master’s in college students.”

Whoa.  A master’s in college students?  Really, there’s a master’s in college students?  There was, and I got one.

Valkyrie and I started talking about college majors a few years ago.  I think she was trying to figure out exactly what I did at UConn once my story about being Geno’s assistant coach fell apart.  There really wasn’t one subject that she loved and I knew it was still early so I think we got as far as “I’m not going to be an engineer, a teacher, a doctor, or an accountant.”

I knew what I was going to say if she asked me what she should major in.  I was going to say “major in what you like.”  I was absolutely not going to suggest a major.  I know what it feels like to be a helicopter parent, but I knew when to land.  There’s really no good answer to this question anyway.  The bottom line is that you have to enjoy what you are studying, and that’s a good way to pick a major.  Some parents I’ve talked to don’t care much for my opinion about majors.  They ask me “what is the hot major today?” and “what will guarantee employment when our child graduates?”

There are no guarantees.  Period.  What’s hot today is laid off tomorrow.  Everyone reading this knows someone affected by downsizing, re-sizing, un-sizing, and this one….”We’re sunsetting your department.”  That’s beautiful isn’t it?  Ask those people you know who lost their jobs if their college major mattered.

Valkyrie came to me one day about a year ago, during the college application process.  She was really excited and told me “I just found out about the coolest job!!!”  “Oh, what was that?”  “Well, I don’t know what it’s called but we have this person at school who goes around and finds places for high school students to do service learning and community volunteering.  That is so cool isn’t it?” she said.  “Yes hon, that is very cool.”

 

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