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Ask The Readers: If Parents Are Paying For College, Are Any Majors Off Limits?

How to think about choosing a major

Karen should outline a list of steps her daughter can take to convince her that a film studies major is reasonable, and explain that she will pay only as much as her conscience allows if she remains unconvinced. Potential requirements for her daughter could be:

  1. Review the Occupational Handbook at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and document the mean annual wage for people in her desired field, as well as the employment outlook for her intended profession.
  2. Ask her college to put her in touch with recent graduates in the same major and contact former students to find out about their post-college experience. Have they found work? Are they pleased with the pay and work environment? How optimistic are they about their career prospects? Is further education likely to be required?
  3. Contact the college's placement center or work with professors to identify relevant internship opportunities (even if unpaid) that may be available to students and approach companies or organizations to learn details of those internships.
  4. Participate in volunteer work that allows her to learn more about working in the film industry and build skills at the same time.

Karen should commit to keeping an open mind about the value of her daughter's proposed degree and insist that her daughter also keep an open mind. If it turns out there are more opportunities than she imagined available to film studies majors, Karen can pay as much as she can comfortably afford to support that degree pursuit. But, if her daughter discovers that the post-college road is bleak for those who majored in film studies, or similar subject, it would be wise to select a major with brighter prospects. It's always possible to take a few film studies courses for fun while concentrating elsewhere.

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