Honest Advice needed for Mom of College Student

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Sweetie

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Hi 20somethings! I'm very concerned about my son and I'm hoping that some input from you all will help me feel a little less worried. My son will be 21 in November. He's in his 4th year of college with a major of psychology. He claims that its totally acceptable that its going to take him 5 years to graduate. He is much brighter than I am and has a way of telling me things so that by the time he's finished speaking I feel less informed and more confused. He has been telling me that his advisors are saying that his having a job right now isn't all that important. I am of the opinion that he should have some kind of work history so that it shows he can manage to show up to work every day and follow the orders that a boss would give him, even if its working in a fast food business, grocery business or the like (and not in the field he's studying for). Am I wrong? Am I being foolish in not insisting he get some kind of job? How did you all do if you didn't work while attending college? Was it a problem when you graduated and were seeking work? Did the prospective employers find it odd that you didn't have a job and hold it against you? Please, any input would be greatly appreciated. I love my son very much and I want him to have a good life. I didn't go to college so this is all very overwhelming and confusing for me. Thanks in advance for any advice or input you share.
 

LordQuas

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For perspective I am a junior Psych major, havent finished due to life circumstances

If he gets a job thats not related to his major then it really wont help him much, he'd probably be better off trying to get an internship in the mental health care field. Another very important question: What are his post-graduate plans? A bachelors in psych isnt going to get you that far, I know several people (6 imediately come to mind) who have a BA in psych and none of them work in their field, most of them have generic paper pusher-type jobs. I live in the Cleveland area and the job market here is awful, I cant speak to the job market there in NY though.
 

bbwbud

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Hi 20somethings! I'm very concerned about my son and I'm hoping that some input from you all will help me feel a little less worried. My son will be 21 in November. He's in his 4th year of college with a major of psychology. He claims that its totally acceptable that its going to take him 5 years to graduate. He is much brighter than I am and has a way of telling me things so that by the time he's finished speaking I feel less informed and more confused. He has been telling me that his advisors are saying that his having a job right now isn't all that important. I am of the opinion that he should have some kind of work history so that it shows he can manage to show up to work every day and follow the orders that a boss would give him, even if its working in a fast food business, grocery business or the like (and not in the field he's studying for). Am I wrong? Am I being foolish in not insisting he get some kind of job? How did you all do if you didn't work while attending college? Was it a problem when you graduated and were seeking work? Did the prospective employers find it odd that you didn't have a job and hold it against you? Please, any input would be greatly appreciated. I love my son very much and I want him to have a good life. I didn't go to college so this is all very overwhelming and confusing for me. Thanks in advance for any advice or input you share.

I would suggest looking at the Judge Judy Quote you post. I think he's telling you it's raining. He can go to school for five years and not work, but has to start paying for all his expenses.
 

Sweetie

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For perspective I am a junior Psych major, havent finished due to life circumstances

If he gets a job thats not related to his major then it really wont help him much, he'd probably be better off trying to get an internship in the mental health care field. Another very important question: What are his post-graduate plans? A bachelors in psych isnt going to get you that far, I know several people (6 imediately come to mind) who have a BA in psych and none of them work in their field, most of them have generic paper pusher-type jobs. I live in the Cleveland area and the job market here is awful, I cant speak to the job market there in NY though.

I believe its a Masters that he's looking to get. He said the same thing as you about a BA not being very useful. I've been pushing him to do the internship thing. Thanks for answering. It sounds like you're confirming what he's been saying. :)
 

Sweetie

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I would suggest looking at the Judge Judy Quote you post. I think he's telling you it's raining. He can go to school for five years and not work, but has to start paying for all his expenses.

Its funny that you referred to that, because when I was writing this I was thinking the same thing. I just want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He does hand over whatever isn't used for his classes that he receives in financial aid so its SOMETHING. But I still feel as though its a good thing to show that you've got a record of showing up for work every day. :)
 

DKnight00

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Its funny that you referred to that, because when I was writing this I was thinking the same thing. I just want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He does hand over whatever isn't used for his classes that he receives in financial aid so its SOMETHING. But I still feel as though its a good thing to show that you've got a record of showing up for work every day. :)

I can only speak from my one experiences,

I'm currently in college at 24 years of age, and wish I would have just finished it after high school rather than going straight into work. My reasons back then were simple, I just wanted my own money back then, however tried to balance school and work. For some it works, others it doesn't. Between personal/family issues, I took a hiatus from school to simply work for about 2 years before slowly starting school back up, taking one class at a time until I came to my current 3-4 per semester.

I think it would be all right for him to finish school completely before starting work, at least getting a BA before finding any kind of job, and then Master's part time, or just full blown school until after a Masters. With a MA, getting a job semi-close to his field shouldn't be that hard, at least I wouldn't think so. Maybe not something completely in his field, but something close to it until he gets to where he wants to be.

If he were to work now, I feel it would possibly complicate things, at least in building some sort of stress. Especially when working somewhere nowhere near your field, such as a grocery store etc., it can be a bit aggravating. If he doesn't HAVE to, I wouldn't suggest it.

Having the fortitude to complete your BA or MA to me should show employers that he is determined to get what he wants or needs done. Once thats completely out of the way, he could get a decent paying job, or entry level, until something in his career crops up. I would suggest someplace full time, with a regular schedule rather than customer service. Then again... the main area I can see him gaining from working in an entry level customer service job, may be that people (mainly estranged customers) can be erratic, in which a potential employer could ask how he diffused the situation.

But anyway sorry for the long post, but I do believe he should just complete his school and get it out of the way as fast as possible, then join a job where he can work for years until he gets where he wants to be, or may he be so lucky/determined to arrive at his career immediately after school. Either way, Good Luck !

EDIT:

Also, my brother is currently 28 years of age. He attained his bachelor's degree, and began working towards his masters a year after getting it. Between the ages of 22-23, he got a job at a pharmaceutical plant, getting promotions over the course of his time there. Over 3 years he worked there before getting a job in Engineering, where he nearly tripled his salary. He initially started working at a fast food job during high school part time, where he only worked for about 3 months before quitting. Went to school full time to attain his BA, then got that pharmaceutical job. Just another experience different from mine.
 

Yakatori

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...very important question: What are his post-graduate plans? A bachelors in psych isnt going to get you that far, I know several people (6 imediately come to mind) who have a BA in psych and none of them work in their field, most of them have generic paper pusher-type jobs...

I think Quas's basic question is a critical starting point, & something that requires consistent re-visiting throughout school years, even-if already asked & answered. Because, as on closing-in on "the finish-line;" it's completely normal for folks to, kind of, second-guess or try to re-think where they're going. Because, necessarily, they're acting on new & changing information both about themselves and the job-market, what they think it will take to do whatever it is they grew-up dreaming of doing and what other competing opportunities are out there. Added to this is a general difficulty with constructively articulating these kinds of misgiving with the very people who're, more or less, sponsoring them, who've given up so much just so that he or she could have said opportunity. So, instead, they might draw back into a comfort zone, talking with peers who're all somewhat in the same boat. But don't really know as much as they need to in order to effectively counsel.

"I believe its a Masters that he's looking to get. He said the same thing as you about a BA not being very useful. I've been pushing him to do the internship thing. Thanks for answering. It sounds like you're confirming what he's been saying. :)"
I dunno if you can fairly say that there are no-entry level jobs in the field of psychology; that-is, depending on just how broadly you define it. For example, lots of people who go into police-work or corrections have psychology just as a basic undergraduate-educational background. It would probably also help someone to get work with a school system as some sort of aide or teaching assistant. And, on that type of pay-scale, there all sorts of other types of para-professionals who work in various areas of mental health (drug & alcohol counseling centers, facilities for mentally-disabled adults, child-services, etc...)

Really, what I think accounts for some of the dynamic Quas is describing has to do with the combined realization of precisely what those jobs pay & what's needed (effort/time + $) in order to advance unto a higher standard of living. And, of course, compounded by just how competitive the job-market is right now at every level. (i.e., some of these career-track type of jobs a marginal candidate could've just fell-into as recently as 15 or 20 years ago or so, but now even a potential-McJob is bringing people in for that 2nd or 3rd interview.) And so it begs the questions of "Why should I commute 45 minutes to an hour and a half one-way just to get to this one potentially developmental opportunity, when I can more-easily make just about the same money working at a Starbucks that's less than 30 minutes travel-time both-ways & with more schedule-flexibility, roughly comparable-benefits, etc... Or, for just a little-bit less than that, I could work behind the counter at a gas-station car-wash-convenience store that's right around the block (from where my parent's live) where I have little or no actual-responsibility and no added expense of insurance/benefits, since I can't really afford to use-them anyway nor are they remotely worth the cost. Or, for significantly more money than any of these options (but, again, not too much opportunity for longer-term or higher-level advancement or development outside of a relatively narrow scope of skills), I might work for my friend's family's landscaping business? Or fetching parts in a junkyard? Or maybe I'll cut hair? Or tend-bar." And it (just) goes on and on and on.

Do you see what I'm trying to get-at? (Maybe-even I don't.;)) In this particular climate (astronomical rise in cost of education, price-inflation, wage-stagnation, shrinking middle-class, increasing gap between rich & poor) it tends to cause us to question-ourselves, and what we really-want. And, for many of us, in a way that's often not so constructive? Literally every job has some at least-marginally developmental-value. And maybe that's why the idea of him doing "nothing" is so scary. But there is always a trade-off, an opportunity-cost for every single decision, every single step in one direction or another.

And so, if he's not as clear on precisely what it is he wants, and this is being compounded by pressure from by the very person or people who're normally closest to him, people whose approval (even-if just-subconsciously, on a purely subliminal level) he's depended on from an early-age; it can be very overwhelming.

That's why, as aggravating as that veneer of "laziness" might feel, it might ultimately prove more pragmatic for you to (more gently & carefully) attempt to address the FEAR that's; perhaps, well-hidden beneath?

Sort of curious as to why this is all coming to a head (particularly) just now, as we're already into the beginning of the new school-year, i.e. classes have already been scheduled. More-often, you will hear about stuff like this at the opposite end of the calendar, right?
 

Sweetie

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DKnight and Yakitori...thanks for your input. You've both brought up things that my son and I have talked about. Yakitori...the fear factor is something I've been sensing lately also. I really appreciate you both taking the time to respond. :)
 

Amaranthine

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What everyone else has said is great. As a senior Psych major, I figured I'd throw my two cents in.

1. Is there any reason he needs that extra year to graduate? If he's JUST a psych major, to be honest, that might not look great. At least if he wants to get into a Masters program. I personally don't see any reason why a single major degree should take any longer than 4, unless he switched majors or had a major crisis.

2. I don't think a normal job is that important at all, but that's coming from someone who hasn't had one during my college career. BUT I'd strongly recommend advising him to look into an RA position - which is a research assistant. It'll either give him something that'll look great on an application (while requiring the responsibility of a job,) OR totally deter him from pursuing something further if he hates it. I've heard of it happening a lot - someone thinks they want to pursue further education solely based on their undergraduate classes, only to learn that they can't stand research.

3. Masters are expensive. They're very difficult to get funding for, unlike a PhD. So make sure he's seriously considered why he wants to get a Masters or what he'd optimally like to do with it.

4. This is pretty irrelevant - does he actually go to school in NY? I go to school in Buffalo, so I can't help but be curious
 

Sweetie

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What everyone else has said is great. As a senior Psych major, I figured I'd throw my two cents in.

1. Is there any reason he needs that extra year to graduate? If he's JUST a psych major, to be honest, that might not look great. At least if he wants to get into a Masters program. I personally don't see any reason why a single major degree should take any longer than 4, unless he switched majors or had a major crisis.

2. I don't think a normal job is that important at all, but that's coming from someone who hasn't had one during my college career. BUT I'd strongly recommend advising him to look into an RA position - which is a research assistant. It'll either give him something that'll look great on an application (while requiring the responsibility of a job,) OR totally deter him from pursuing something further if he hates it. I've heard of it happening a lot - someone thinks they want to pursue further education solely based on their undergraduate classes, only to learn that they can't stand research.

3. Masters are expensive. They're very difficult to get funding for, unlike a PhD. So make sure he's seriously considered why he wants to get a Masters or what he'd optimally like to do with it.

4. This is pretty irrelevant - does he actually go to school in NY? I go to school in Buffalo, so I can't help but be curious

Thanks for your response. First, yes, he goes to school in NY, but its the local college, CSI. I saw your response the other day but unfortunately, he was standing behind me so I didn't want him to see that I was questioning what he was telling me so I clicked off DIMS. Its going to take him 5 years because he's been taking the minimum number of credits he can get away with all along. I just figured this out recently. He approached me this morning and told me he's thinking of focusing on applied behavioral analysis. This seems to have been something thats been on his mind and I think he's been talking to other psych majors and having the same discussions that I've read here. So thank you again for responding. It seems like things are going as they should be, with a few bumps that are being smoothed over. :)
 

Sweetie

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I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my questions. I repped you all. I feel much better now as to how things are going with my son. You have all helped ease my mind and educate me and I am grateful. :)
 

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