The world is changing at the most rapid pace in history and flexibility is the key to keeping up. Last night I was talking about goals and educational paths with my older kids. I gave them this unsolicited advice, “Don’t go into manufacturing. That’s so last century. Don’t get a job doing customer service for computers. Those jobs are in India, and I won’t let you take my grandkids that far away from me.”
My oldest son wants to take a course next school year in video game programming. He thinks he’s going to get a good paying job writing code for his generation’s version of Donkey Kong. (What is his generation called anyway? Z? If so, what comes after Z?) I think we’ll start with C++ and see what happens. It’s more likely that he’ll write software for control systems for launch pads like his dad, but I didn’t want to tell him that just yet. What kind of adolescent male prefers blowing up things on a television screen over doing it in real life? Mine apparently.
I told my oldest daughter to get a degree in nursing. Healthcare is not going away. Jobs are plentiful and portable. Chances are really good that some fine gentleman will want to snatch her up and carry her away, so it’s probable that she’ll marry and have children. Nursing is one of those things that can be worked on a per diem basis as needed, unlike say, teaching kindergarten.
Nursing is a useful skill. Skills are important. I’m sure a major in art history with a minor in women’s issues is useful to some people, but not the kind of people who can pay you money.
My daughter said, “That’s nice mom, but I was thinking about being a dentist.” Her former dentist worked one day a week and drove a convertible, but I didn’t want to tell her there might be other reasons for that. I agree with the Beetles on this one, let it be.
No matter the unemployment rate, there is and always will be a short supply of smart people with a work ethic. Be one of those people. There are few of them and you will stand out like John Stossel at a teacher’s union meeting.
College is a huge waste of time for some things, but there are specialties which require hoop jumping. There are things in life that are stupid, and I don’t begrudge my kids for thinking so. But part of life is hoop jumping, and sometimes you have to figure out how to get inside the hoop and hula like it’s nobody’s business. For a few professions, college is one of those hoops.
Of course, I’d prefer my kids to find funding for a start up and make their first million before getting married and settling down doing charitable work, but I don’t want to project. It’s annoying. The point is flexibility, and that includes supporting my kids even when they don’t take my advice. Because they’ll have the grandkids, and I have to keep myself tolerable so they don’t move to India just to get away from me.