For me, there’s nothing more depressing than meeting incoming freshmen at Mason who have declared themselves as accounting majors. They’re 18 years old, they haven’t had a chance to take a course in Shakespeare or evolutionary biology or the history of economic thought, and already they’ve decided to devote the rest of their lives to accountancy. It’s worth remembering that at American universities, the original rationale for majors was not to train students for careers. Rather, the idea was that after a period of broad intellectual exploration, a major was supposed to give students the experience of mastering one subject, in the process developing skills such as discipline, persistence, and how to research, analyze, communicate clearly and think logically.4 thoughts:
1. Why are they 18 years old? Why not mature a little by doing something valuable or stupid for a few years? Start hemorrhaging money after you know yourself well enough to decide what you want to do in life.
2. In the old days, the days of the "original rationale," only an elite set went to college. It was a good bet that the degree would leverage your success, and in your secure elitism, you could indulge in the professor's dream that you were rounding yourself out.
3. It's not the student's mission to keep from depressing the professor. Have your own list of things you want for yourself because you know yourself. It would be weird if you put not depressing professors on it.
4. Of course, it's not all about pleasing your parents either, but at least your parents love you, probably. But feel free to continue to use your parents as you explain to professors why you don't think it's such a good idea to major in the field they are struggling to preserve as an ongoing operation.