You can follow a passion in history (or pretty much anything else for that matter) without running up tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. Get books out of the library, do part-time research. If you end up writing a book or two that someone will pay for then you've made a career.
"The thing about engineering is that it tends to be easier to go into other fields with an engineering degree than the reverse." Very true Duane! An engineering degree today is what a business degree was 25 years ago.
I also agree that one has to really enjoy engineering to pursue it. Plus one has to have the aptitude for it. I believe my kids will have that aptitude since both parents are engineers. If they're into understanding how things work and solving problems, I would encourage them toward engineering. There is so much one can do with an engineering degree today!
Valid point, but there are also a lot of people unhappy in their careers because they studied a particular field for the money and not because they liked it.
As Harvey McKay said, "Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life."
We know engineering careers are hard and we don't think our kids would be up to it. If I had known how hard it was I wouldn't think I was up to it either. We worked hard and adapted. I guess they will too.
"A student who follows his or her passion develops a love of learning, and that is, in my opinion, far more important than learning only what you need to know to get a specific job on a specific career path."
In good times, I would agree. But there are a heck of a lot of unemployed yet passionate English and History majors who might disagree with this approach.
I agree with all these comments about encouraging our kids to study whatever they are passionate about. If that's some branch of engineering, great. If it's something else -- a business field, teaching or a liberal arts major -- that's great too.
But the world needs more than just engineering majors and business majors, and a university education should be first and foremost about getting a higher education, not simply training for a specific job or a specific career.
I have 2 in college now, and many of the careers that will come about during their working lifetimes don't even exist yet. Imagine 20 years ago if someone had told us there would be such a career as "web designer." What education would you have told someone 20 years ago that he needed if he wanted to be a web designer? Computer science? Well maybe. But what about graphic arts? How many successful web designers even majored in either one of those things?
A student who follows his or her passion develops a love of learning, and that is, in my opinion, far more important than learning only what you need to know to get a specific job on a specific career path.
I would tell them to study finance. What other field can you run a company into the ground, get a government bailout, and then get a 100 million dollar bonus? Engineering is no longer a good field to get into.
I agree with Duane: follow your passion. Firstly, if they are passionate about their major, they will be more likely to stick with it and actually graduate. Secondly, in this ever-changing world, there are very few "guaranteed" careers, so your kids may wind up working in a different field from their college major. And Rich makes an important point: in addition to critical reasoning, ethics and humanity are important things to learn (and to practice). Finally, some people (like me) are born to be engineers. The world shapes most of us; a privileged few of us have the opportunity to shape the world.
I would tell them to study something that they have passion about and has career potential. If they have a passion without much career potential, then take that as a minor. The thing about engineering is that it tends to be easier to go into other fields with an engineering degree than the reverse.
If you enjoy engineering but later decide to go into marketing or some more generic business position, it;s not that difficult to do. But going the other direction will likely take nearly an entire new degree.