A favorite line of questioning for family and friends can quickly dissolve into an insulting view of my education.
There is nothing I dread more than being asked: "what's your major?"
It's not uncommon for family, friends, or even people I have just met to ask me about my college experience but I always dread the questions that come with it. I began my career at college as an undeclared major in the College of Liberal Arts (as every Arts major does at my school). I knew the major that I intended to declare which is called Peace and Justice. When I committed to college, I proclaimed my intended major when asked about it. I had fallen in love with the program, and it was a big factor in my decision to ultimately choose my college.
When I told people my intended major, they became confused and often hostile.
There are a few instances which stick out in my mind. Once when I told a woman my major she replied, "you know you'll make no money with that right?" This upset me, and it came from someone that I had only met five minutes prior. I laughed it off, but it still sticks with me today. The reality is that this woman did not know me and she has no idea what I am capable of. Yet, the simple mention of my major emboldened her to cast doubt on my entire future. Another instance which stands out is a man who first insulted my school and then said my major was for "crying, liberal, white women." I was shocked by his comment and it solidified a lot of the insecurities I still had in my own mind about my intended major. Although I wound up as a Political Science major rather than Peace and Justice, people still cast doubt on my career prospects.
The reality is that not everyone will approve of your major, and that does not matter.
Whether it be family, friends, or strangers, there will always be someone criticizing your major. What matters is that it is right for you and you enjoy it. You chose your major for a reason, and no matter which you choose there will always be career options open for you, you just have to pursue them
It's okay to not have it all figured out.
A common follow-up to the major question is, "what are you going to do with that degree?" This is said in varying tones, from a mocking one to a curious one. However, it's okay that I do not have a specific answer to it. I still am unsure whether I will be pursuing a graduate degree or whether I will jump right into work post-grad, and if it is the latter, I do not know exactly what type of work I will be doing. That is okay! I am a rising sophomore in college, and at the ripe age of 18, I do not need to know exactly what I plan to do with my degree. The best things in life take you by surprise, and I have opened myself up to the idea that my career is just as much a mystery as the rest of my future.
There are ways to ask about education without belittling students.
Of course, this is not all meant to discourage people from asking about my college experience and my degree. What I mean to relay is the idea that people should be supportive of others' education. Going to college at all is an accomplishment and graduating with a degree in any field should be celebrated. I like to talk about my education, as long as I feel supported by the people around me.
If you care about someone, you should trust that they will succeed no matter what.
I know that I am capable of doing great things with my college degree, and I intend to do so. The people who love me the most know that as well. They may not understand, or their concerns may be legitimate. However, it is important to recognize that there are millions of jobs out there and regardless of what major I choose to pursue there is always a strong possibility that I will secure a career that provides me with financial stability while allowing me to work in a field that I love.