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Ask Dr. Syl: My Parents Want Me To Change My Major

Dr. Syl

Dear Dr. Syl, 

My parents don’t approve of my career choice/major. They want me to choose something stable and safe, like business or teaching. But my heart lies somewhere else. I feel guilty and selfish, but I feel this is the right thing for me. How do I manage their expectations?

– From Parent Expectations


Dear Parent Expectations, 

I have come across multiple people that have had parents who are disappointed in the choices they have made.  Sometimes I think they become disappointed because they probably want their children to achieve some of the goals they themselves were unable to achieve.  They want to fulfill those desires through their children.  

However, as individuals, we have to do what makes us happy and fulfilled. This is especially important when deciding what career path to take.  We spend a large majority of our day working so it should be something we find enjoyable.  

You want to be happy to get to work and excited about what you can achieve. Parents usually want what is best for their children so it is important to communicate the importance of loving what you do to parents.  It is hard for people to understand this concept but ultimately, we are the ones that will have to do the work daily so passion is very important.  Also remember that people who have taken the greatest risks have received the biggest rewards.  In other words, it is not always better to play it safe!

It is also important to know that choosing a major in the arts, for example, does not prevent anyone from getting a job in business or teaching if we decide to make that change in the future.  In fact, many people I know have majored in one thing but have pursued a career in something very different.

Your major does not always dictate your career so don’t feel like choosing a major is a binding decision.  There is definitely room for flexibility depending on the field of study.  Sharing the reality of these flexible options with parents may also be helpful to keep their minds at ease.
Finally, I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to all the current students who are doing their finals!  I remember the anxiety that comes with all the testing and paper, check out Educated Latina’s tips for beating finals stress


Good luck!

Dr, Syl

Author: Dr. Sylvia Landaverde

Sylvia, also known as Dr. Syl, is a first generation college student with a B.A. in sociology with a minor in women’s studies from California State University, Long Beach, an M.P.A. from Cal State Dominguez Hills, and her Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. Dr. Syl lives with her fiancee and two-year-old son and enjoys travel, volunteer work and spending time with her family.


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