“Push Your Kid into Electrical Engineering!” (Really?)

Recently, I was contacted by a freelance writer hoping to guest post on my blog. Her article was essentially a long list of reasons why electrical engineering is a great career for students to consider.

electrical engineering

The writer provided several great reasons for students to consider electrical engineering, including these:

  • Electrical engineering can be an excellent part of an interdisciplinary career that also includes chemical, civil, petroleum, mechanical, software, or biomedical engineering.
  • Electrical engineering can be applied to work that involves signal processing, control systems, robotics, microelectronics, and more.
  • Electrical engineering pays well, and career prospects in electrical engineering are good. (Just take a look at this excellent information page that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides on the subject of electrical engineering.)

I refused to publish the article, and here’s why.

My reply to this writer said:

“Ella, it’s clear that you have worked very hard on this article about electrical engineering, but I’m sorry; I cannot accept it for use on my blog.

In everything I write, I stand against pushing kids to certain career goals unless three specific psychometric assessments indicate that the child would be naturally good at that career as far as personality, interest, and strength bent. I go into detail on exactly how parents can access these assessments and figure all this out in chapter 13 of my book.

I can’t publish anything encouraging students toward one certain career. What if the parent reading the article has a child who is a born artist, and that child will be miserable and a failure as an electrical engineer? Thank you for your effort here. I hope you can get it published somewhere else.”

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5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better Than Well-Rounded

well-rounded

From the time students are in middle school, they’re told the big lie. That colleges and grad schools are looking for students who are “well-rounded.”

“Don’t commit too deeply to any one thing,” well-meaning parents and college counselors tell students. “Instead, do a lot of different things. Do as many as you can! Cram your schedule full to bursting! Exhaust yourself! Colleges and grad schools will like how ‘well-rounded’ you are.”

Here are 5 reasons why the “well-rounded” myth makes no sense.

1. Millions of students fall into the “well-rounded” category. It’s nothing special.

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17 College Majors That Put Kids On the Path to Underemployment

Forbes recently published a list of 17 college majors that carry high underemployment rates.

Grads in these degree fields find it hard to get the jobs they went to school for. They tend to make less money than they should be making, and a lot of them live with this discouraging realization: “I might have just wasted all that time and money I spent on college; I’m not even using the degree I worked so hard for.”

Help your kid stay off of the path to underemployment.

college major

17 College Majors That Tend to Lead to Underemployment:

  1. Physical Education Teaching: 57% grads are underemployed
  2. Human Services: 56% grads are underemployed
  3. Illustration: 55% grads are underemployed
  4. Criminal Justice: 53% grads are underemployed
  5. Project Management: 53% grads are underemployed
  6. Radio/Television & Film Production: 53% grads are underemployed
  7. Studio Art: 52% grads are underemployed
  8. Healthcare Administration: 52% grads are underemployed
  9. Education: 52% grads are underemployed
  10. Human Development & Family Studies: 52% grads are underemployed
  11. Creative Writing: 51% grads are underemployed
  12. Animal Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  13. Exercise Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  14. Heath Sciences: 51% grads are underemployed
  15. Paralegal Studies: 51% grads are underemployed
  16. Theater: 51% grads are underemployed
  17. Art History: 51% grads are underemployed

(This information is based on PayScale data collected from 962,956 workers between 3/21/2014 and 3/21/2016.)

But wait–there’s good news in this Forbes report too!

In every one of these college major fields, some of the graduates are working. A good number of them (in some cases almost 50%!) are employed in their career fields, fulfilling their potential, making money they’re happy with.

What sets the fully-employed grads apart from the underemployed ones?

One thing I know for sure–the grads who completed extensive job shadowing and multiple paid internships in their career fields are doing far better than those who failed to complete these important steps during college.

You can see two extremely helpful posts I’ve written about internships here and here.

If your kid loves a field with low employability, have him or her try this:

Take the advice of Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling, who tells students: “Ask yourself–do you really need two or four years of full study in subjects like studio art, creative writing, or theater? Is that something you could do with just a few classes, plus practice on your own time?”

Your child could also consider combining the less desirable major with a potentially more lucrative minor. Combine a “health care administration” major with an accounting minor, for instance, or an “illustration” major with a marketing, advertising, or art education credential.

I’m not sure I’d advise your kid to pursue a college major in Studio Art, Theater, or Art History…

Those fields are notoriously difficult when it comes to finding full-time jobs after college.

But I can tell you this. Being strategic about job shadowing and interning can make the difference between depressing, low-paying, motivation-sapping underemployment and a truly fulfilling long-term career that makes perfect sense.

(Many thanks to Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling for the help she gave me writing this article.)

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