I am considering dropping out of college. I am a sophomore majoring in chemistry. I had planned to go on to medical school, but am learning very quickly that I am really not interested in medicine. In fact, I no longer want to attend a 4-year university. I haven’t told my parents yet because they would absolutely freak out. Both of my parents are college graduates and strongly believe in education. College just isn’t for me. I would much rather go to culinary school and become a chef. How can I talk to my parents about this without having them disown me forever? — College Dropout
Dear College Dropout:
Being a mother of four children, I understand that college is not for everyone. At the same time, when it comes to education, there are many alternatives to traditional colleges and universities. The workforce today is very competitive and I believe that education beyond high school can give you an advantage. My daughter recently decided not to go back to the four-year university she attended. At first I was quite upset because as a parent you want your children to have the greatest opportunities and advantages in life. Then I had a conversation with her and found that she had really thought her situation through and wanted to attend a technical college, similar to culinary school. The program is specific to what she wants to do in life and much shorter. My daughter learns best when she can focus on one class at a time, that was really not an option for her at a traditional university where she was on partial scholarship. The technical school allowed her to be able to take one class at a time. Once she earns her degree they will assist in job placement and she can start earning a living. I became less upset when I learned she had a plan. After all, she is an adult and able to make informed decisions about her life.
The adult thing to do is to be honest with your parents. Let them know your situation and your plans. Like me, they may be upset at first, but may be able to offer you some keen insight and direction to help you make the right choice and map out a plan.
Talking to your parents may not be the easiest thing to do, but life is not easy. Welcome to responsible adulthood!
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.