Monday, September 9, 2013

Freshman Feels Pushed To Study What Parents Want

Dear Tazi:

I started college this summer because my parents wanted me to get a jump on my degree, so while I was finishing my senior year of high school I was also enrolled in college writing and college math. It made for a pretty boring summer, and I only got a little over a month off before I had to get ready to start classes again. My parents want me to major in History so I can go to law school and eventually join my father’s firm. While I don’t mind the idea of being a lawyer, I don’t want to study History. Or Political Science. Or any other Pre-Law program for that matter. I want to study Psychology and Criminology and learn why criminals commit crimes. I like the idea of being a Prosecutor and working for the District Attorney, and maybe even running for Attorney General someday. My ultimate goal in life is to be a judge, and I can’t see that happening if I go into Corporate law at my father’s firm.

I know that I could make a lot more money working for my father’s firm than I could working for the state, but I have grown up surrounded by money and privilege and don’t enjoy it too much. I like doing simple things like fishing, camping, and hunting. I have worked as a file clerk for my father for two summers now (yeah, in addition to my classes) so I have had some exposure to what it is like to work in his firm and one of the things it requires is very long hours, seven days a week. There would be no time for recreation if I went to work for him

I have some money set aside from my grandparents (my Mom’s parents) that they left me when they died, so I can pay for my own schooling if my parents threaten to cut me off for not studying History. This is not why I am afraid of telling them my plans for my future. My father’s law firm was founded by my great-grandpa (his grandpa) and tradition is big where I come from, and even bigger than is normal for these parts in my family. I don’t want to be the person who ends that tradition. I also don’t want to live a life that will make me miserable, either. I feel like either way I lose. Can you think of a solution, Tazi Kat?

Confused And On The Cusp Of Manhood

Dear Confused And on The Cusp Of Manhood:

I assume you are 18 years old or just about, so don’t worry too much about being confused, and don’t worry about what to tell your parents just yet. Many college students end up studying something different from what they intended to study when they first started. You will not be required to actually declare a major until your junior year, so I suggest for now you concentrate on taking a variety of courses that interest you – be they in History, Political Science, Criminology, or Psychology. Many of these courses will double as general education credits, so you will be working towards your degree requirements while you explore all of your options.

The important thing to do is to keep your parents in the loop regarding your interest in your studies. No parent wants to be kept in the dark only to discover upon graduation that their child will not be going to graduate school because they changed their major to art (true story!). The great thing about law school is that you can do your undergraduate work in almost any field; History and Political science just happen to be two of the most common choices. Once your parents catch on that your interests fall outside these traditional subjects you can look for your opening to discuss your future plans – which by then may be completely different than what they are now.

Be prepared to handle your parents expected disappointment in a mature manner. You do not need to rely on their money to pay for your education, so there is no reason to flip out on them if they threaten to cut you off financially. Explain to them that the family legacy is important to you, and that your goal is to bring honor to that legacy; holding elected position or even a judgeship is no small accomplishment! You may even be surprised to learn that your father will understand that Corporate law is not what interests you, and that he will be willing to work with you to go in your own direction, working on cases that don’t dovetail into his firm’s main area of concern but that concern some of his more important clients. Remember that you will need to work internships while an undergraduate and as a law student, so try not to burn the bridges that exist between you and your father. All any parent wants for their child is happiness and success; try and work with your parents to achieve both while standing firm to your own principles. Consider it a preview of your life’s work to come.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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