My stepdaughter, like most college seniors, is looking forward to graduation as she starts the new school year. With the employment of recent college graduates at an all time low, many are choosing to stay in school and get their master degrees. But are these young 20-somethings selecting their master programs wisely? I'm the first in line promoting finding a career that lets you work your passion, BUT, employability and earning potential must be figured into the choice.
In my stepdaughter's situation, I almost bounced off the wall when she announced that she wanted to pursue a master in student activities. WHAT can you do with that? was my initial verbal reaction that I wish now I could retrieve and re-word. The most enjoyable part of her undergrad experience has been serving on the student activities board every year, so the choice seems logical to her. However, my concern is two-fold: First, will she be able to find a job in that field? AND Second, will that job pay enough so that she'll be able to pay off her student loans sometime before she retires?
I can't help but wonder if other parents are going through similar conversations with their college-age sons and daughters. In a previous life, I worked 12 years in student "activities" in post-secondary educational institutions – and I eventually got my bachelor degree in sociology. Are colleges and universities really looking for a master in student activities before hiring a student housing dean? Sorry, I'm still in a flabbergasted state over this. Like most parents (and stepparents) I want what's best for my girl – I really want her to be happy, healthy and self-sufficient. Not too sure a master degree in student activities will be what she needs to make this all happen.
From the blog, CollegeAftermath.com, comes the advice, "Whatever situation you find yourself in, the important thing is to be willing and able to step back and take a good look at the big picture." This advice is sound. Nothing is ever permanent, a concept 50-somethings have learned the hard way but that the younger generation has not truly experienced. But one thing is for sure – it's always nice to minimize financial loss whenever possible.
My advice to college students is to not assume that their bachelor degree is worthless so they feel forced into pursuing a master's program as the only solution. But if a master degree is what they really want, I plead with them to choose wisely. Do research to make sure this path will help you along your career journey. Make sure this degree will contribute to your life's purpose – oh, you don't know what that is? Find out before enrolling in any more courses!
Wishing you career success in 2010!