Parental expectations vs. real life choices

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 4:39 PM

Choosing a major is a tedious task due to the wide-ranging implications of this life-altering decision. There are a multitude of factors to consider, such as: salary, personal talents, range of employment opportunities and overall passion. Regardless of the path you venture into, family and parental support is a necessary element in a young adult’s life, because it offers stability during this transitional stage.

However, what implications can arise if your choice of major differs from your family’s wishes? How does that impede your formative college years? Most importantly, what steps can you take to rectify the divide?

The primary repercussion from lack of support in a new place is often emotional distress, feelings that arise due to being overwhelmed or feeling alone in a situation without a firm backbone to rely on. This issue can hinder professional and personal growth, as we cannot frame our world and make cognitive decisions without a preconceived knowing of self that we derive from others. 

There are steps one can take if they are in this dilemma to reduce the looming strain this issue permits. 

Step 1. Recognize that the major you submitted the summer before freshman year is not set in stone. Moreover, it is imperative to not feel trapped in a program or “idea of a career.” As young adults especially, we are ever growing and changing by the vast experiences and knowledge we absorb daily. Thus, our viewpoint can shift along with our goals, which is healthy and a part of narrowing down our true interests. 

Step 2. Create an open dialogue with your parents and family regarding your decision. Most of the time a disconnect in understanding starts with a lack of open ears from both parties. In addition, this type of conversation should not be held via text or a phone call. Sit down face-to-face with the person whom you are in conflict with and give ample time for you to explain your side, and then actively listen to the other person’s perspective with the same respect you would wish to receive. The conversation’s goal is not to eradicate the differences between the two people, but merely give some headway to allow each member to feel validated and heard. 

Step 3. Connect with Edinboro University resources. We have the Center for Career Development and experiential learning available to all students. This center offers career and personality assessments, the ability to see accurate data on career salaries, career coaching, and other tools to allow you, the student, to make the most educated decision regarding your future goals. It’s also great leverage to share with your parents as to why you chose the major you have and to provide real statistics of your career post-graduation. Utilizing the center’s skills not only enhances your understanding, but is another step in the door to diminishing the difference in perspective between your loved one and yourself. 

So, if you find yourself at odds with your parents or family about your choice of major, try implementing some of these techniques and using the resources on campus to gain some relief of the rift at hand. 

JoAllie Paluchak can be reached at

Tags: voices

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