Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 9, When You Aren’t a Fan of Your Child’s College Major. … I told you last week that we were going to talk about your child’s major. I’m going to start at ice cream. Yes, ice cream.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 9, When You Aren’t a Fan of Your Child’s College Major. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend. Episode 9 today, and if I’ve cued this up correctly, next week has Valentine’s Day in it. Honestly, hubby and I don’t make a big deal about it. But if it is important to you, make sure you are clear with your partner on your expectations. If you want roses, and for the last 15 years you haven’t gotten roses, buy yourself some darn roses, my friend! Rather than expecting your partner to read your mind and then, be disappointed when they aren’t able to. How about you just spell it out for them, or better yet, just buy yourself the roses and then, love on your partner. That’s it. What are you making their ability to read your mind mean in your life? It seems a little silly when put that, doesn’t it? That is my Valentine’s Day public service announcement. I might need a whole episode on that topic.
I told you last week that we were going to talk about your child’s major. I’m going to start at ice cream. Yes, ice cream. When I was, I’m going to say under five years old, as far as I knew three flavors of ice cream existed in the universe, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Sometimes, they were all together in that Neapolitan. I remember when sometimes the pink ice cream got on it, I was not very happy. If you had asked me at that age, what my favorite flavor of ice cream was in the whole world, chocolate would have clearly been my response.
I was introduced to the ice cream truck and then, the limited variety of ice cream options at school, when I went. You know that ice cream option with the fudge in the middle and the crumbs on the outside, it’s chocolate? I have no idea what it’s called to be honest, but it was my favorite at school for sure. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, that became a favorite along the way for quite some time. Interesting flavors could be found at Dairy Queen or Friendly’s, which I believe at that time was called Friendly. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream didn’t go national until 1982, when I was 11 years old. Think about this. When I was younger it was a clear choice of chocolate. All I knew about was three flavors, and I hadn’t experienced much of the world. We’ll come back to ice cream in just a bit.
In choosing a major on bestcolleges.com, they share that many education experts believe that students perform better at the college level when they are passionate about their major subjects. This certainly seems like common sense to me. I don’t know about you. In an online post from collegefactual.com, it shares that about 50 – 80 percent of students change their majors at least once. Fifty to 80 percent, that’s a ton. Collegefactual.com also shares that various studies have shown that students who choose a major closely aligned with their interests get better grades and are more likely to graduate on time.
There are so many factors that play into a college major. I mean, some could be interests, earning power, potential demand for graduates, cost, workload and more. These all could be super important or not important to you at all, depending on your circumstances. What I want to challenge you today to do, is to really consider is your child’s major truly theirs? Are they exploring what they want to explore during their time in college? Be super careful that your anxiety, over their future, isn’t guiding them down a path that truly isn’t theirs to take.
Much of the point of college is to explore. To explore new interests and ideas. To expand their world. To discover the new flavors of ice cream that they didn’t even know existed when they started college. Your thoughts about your child’s major, this is really important, how do you show up with the thoughts that you have about your child’s major? I mean, your daughter could call tomorrow and tell you she wants to be a neurosurgeon. You could just as easily have these two totally different thoughts. One thought could be that is tremendous, she’s going to be a neurosurgeon. Another thought could be, oh my gosh, that is a lot of school and a lot of loans to pay for, whether it’s her or me. Right? Same circumstance, totally different thoughts. What’s interesting, is how do you show up differently with those thoughts? Here’s another example, your son could announce that they want to be a Liberal Studies major because they really have no idea what they want they want to do. Your thoughts about that could be what is Liberal Studies? I mean, what kind of job will you get with that? Another option could be, I’m so glad they aren’t rushing into a career path and are taking the time they need to explore their options.
If you’ve listened to my podcast from the beginning, you might now know that I’m going to ask you, how do you show up for your child with the thoughts that you are having about their college major? Who are you for your child with the thoughts that you are having? It’s a college major. Unless they plan to be a doctor, a lawyer, or one of the handful of particular career options that need a specific path, how much does that college major mean, in the long term of their life? If they are on one of those particular paths, make sure they want to be on that path. As for the major, I know a detective who started in finance. I know an attorney who started in elementary education. I know a liberal studies major who became a computer programmer and I know a data analyst that doesn’t have a degree at all. The next time you feel yourself with anxiety over your child’s college major, I want you to ask yourself, what do you want your child to get from you? Is it judgement? Is it anxiety? Or is it support? You can take the energy you spend on concern and worry and put it into discovery with your child.
Can I be really real for a minute with you? What do you truly want your child to have at the end of the four years? A piece of paper with specific words on it, or would you rather your child have clarity on who they are meant to be in the world? I’d take the latter option, any day, for my child. I’m guessing you would too. Really think about it. What if at the end of the four years, they knew who they were? What if they were an actual, emotional adult who knew how to figure out the next steps in life no matter what life threw at them? You know how everyone asks the question, what do you do? What if your child knew who they were so well, that they weren’t wrapped up in their career and they were confident in that? Can you imagine? Imagine that you’re not your job. Just as you aren’t your thoughts. Jobs change. You are still you. You’re still who you are without the job. If your child can discover themselves without that focused job identity, before they’re knee deep in it, what a gift that would be. Right? If your child hasn’t already taken the MBTI, Strong Inventory, or something like it, I’d suggest doing that. There’s a free resource online that is fairly accurate, and I will include a link in my show notes. Take a look at that. Do it with your child. Talk about the results and how it fits in your life for yourself. Have everyone in the family do it. Discuss it. Compare notes. Have fun with it.
Now, back to ice cream. In my life, we were back with the mint chocolate chip ice cream being my favorite. Life happens, and it wasn’t until my 20’s that I actually began to actually enjoy the beverage coffee. Many years go by, I have the option to try Friendly’s Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream, and with my now expanded worldview and my new taste preferences, this was without a doubt my favorite, and still is. Imagine if someone said to me at age five, Christine, pick your favorite ice cream flavor and you will have it for the rest of your life. I might have been thrilled at that moment, but I want you to choose something now that will impact you for the rest of your life, and here’s what we end up doing to our children, and to other people in the world, and I never want you to change it. Can you imagine if when I discovered mint chocolate chip, or Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream, that everyone around me said, oh, no, you chose chocolate. That’s all you can have. I know with ice cream it seems silly, but we do this to our kids with their college major and it starts even earlier, because we ask them to choose what path to take, Science or Humanities, in ninth grade and sometimes earlier? The things we make this mean. You make this episode mean whatever you want. It’s not solutions. It’s just stuff to think about. I hope it does that for you. As a side note, I apologize if you are lactose intolerant, for all those ice cream references.
My next episode’s topic will be filled with advice from college admission counselors, answering the question: what is one thing you wish parents or students understood about the admission process? I’m really excited about this. This will be my first one with guests.
The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) How excited are you for your child’s major choice?
2) If you attended college, what was your major, and did it set the course for your life?
I invite you to fly over to my Empty Nest Flock Community at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers to this episode’s questions. If you come over to our community, know that it is brand spanking new, so there isn’t a lot going on at the moment, but be one of the first to join in. I can’t wait to have this flock form a great formation and just fly to great things. Be one of the first.
I realize I have forgotten to mention lately that this podcast is sponsored by my free seven-day class, The Empty Nest Guide to Uncovering My Future. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it to me in my Empty Nest Flock Community Forum, that is public, or email me at podcast AT youremptynestcoach.com. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you or, if at all. I look forward to seeing there, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!