Help! My Son Just Completed A Useless Degree…

Desire! That’s one secret to every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.” – J. Carson

Over the years, there has been a general acceptance that Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degrees are useless. Parents come to me upset that their son or daughter chose a humanities degree. “These degrees are useless”, “they are a waste of money”, “this degree won’t get my child off my paycheque anytime soon”.  Let me assure you, this is a MYTH.

As parents, we all want what is best for our children. Your role as a parent is to encourage your children to follow their interests in order to find a passion. A degree is what you, as a parent, help your child make of it. It is about what interests and motivates your child. Encourage your child to volunteer and explore part-time job opportunities within those interests. 

Furthermore, a degree will not necessarily decide your child’s future. Think about it, how many people do you know who are working in careers that are related to their university degrees? How many have switched careers? 

A degree is what your child makes of it. Just because your neighbor’s son or daughter graduated with an Engineering or a Science degree, this does not mean that they will necessarily find a better or more paying job faster that your child who graduated with a BA. A university degree, any university degree, will teach your child to be independent, take initiative and develop future relevant job skills.

World Economic Forum lists the following top ten skills for employment for 2020 (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/):

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgement and decision making 
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

These skills are important no matter what circumstances the world of work is going through. Your child will learn many of these skills regardless of degree label. The reality is many future jobs do not yet exist and it is not easy to prepare for these future jobs. Many current jobs will also no longer exist. As you can see from the above list, the future of jobs is not necessarily about having specific technical skills or knowledge.

So, when it is time for your child to choose a university program, make sure you ask probing questions that encourage reflective thinking. What is appealing about the particular university or college of choice? Why this program? How are the required courses relevant to your child’s interests or passions? Questions such as these will assure you that your child will be engaged in learning, completing a degree and succeeding in finding a job upon graduation. 

Mom, Dad. What are you waiting for? Go ask those questions!

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