So, I'm a college freshman at the university of my top choice, studying what I want, I have a full tuition scholarship and a good family and a wonderful boyfriend. I'm on track for my chosen major and everything's just fine really. Yet, I can't think about the future very easily. It's overwhelming and depressing.
My boyfriend is the problem. I've been with him and totally in love with him for over 3 years now, and known him longer than that. He's two academic years ahead of me, and went to the local college back home after he graduated high school, and now I'm 500-some-odd miles away and I get to see him and be home about once a month or less. Our relationship is holding up fine, and I want to stay with him. It's his future that's not looking too bright. This is his third year in college, and he only has 15 credit hours towards a specific major. He didn't know what he wanted to major in, and everyone said that was okay, that he'd figure it out once he got there, but he's still there and hasn't found a program he wants to be in. The major that he's taken the most classes in, he only has 15 hours in, so it would take him about 3 more years to complete it, and we'd graduate at the same time. He really wanted to finish in 1 or 2 years, but none of us had planned very well. I blame myself for it too, for letting him just schedule classes. He's always been a full-time student, but hasn't taken classes in one major, just whatever he was interested in, trying to find a major subject he wanted to study. He's majoring in Computer Science concentration Informational Technologies, and loves to take classes in German also. He's decided he really loves Astronomy, but his school doesn't offer it and he can't afford to transfer and start over.
I don't know what his/our options are. I've got a lot in my head just trying to figure out where I am in school, and now that I feel like that's under some control, I look up his transcript and major and realize what a bad situation he/we are in. My parents don't take him seriously--they like him, but don't really think we're going to be together long-term. They keep referring to the guy I'll "meet someday" as if it's impossible that I've already met him. I can't talk to them about it because I feel like that'll give them another reason not to take us seriously, or to disregard him because he's not "academic" or whatever (they both have Ph.D's). My sister's boyfriend is a college dropout, but very successful and working in DC. Mine still lives at home with his parents, mostly because I was there.
I've thought of maybe he could get certified as something and get a good job that way? I don't know what though. Or, maybe he could get lucky and land a job he likes okay with decent pay, or continue his education later in life at a different school. I just don't know what to think, when I envision my future, what to put in it. I want to be with him but he's really struggling, and I don't want to leave him because it's hard, I want to help him, but I don't know how.
It is VERY common for tertiary students to not know what they want to study, they're influenced by so many externals and internals and yea, it can take years and a lot of stress before they work out what they wanna do.
Your boyfriend has probably gone through some moments of "oh god, where is this even going!?" but he's slowly working out what he enjoys. Did he hop straight from high school to uni? Lotsa ppl do that and then burn out because they've never had a break from study.
Is he happy with Computer Sciences as a major? if so, why not do a double degree in Computer Sciences and European Languages (German)? Both are fields that open doors and very different from each other so he gets a range and less likely to get bored. I'm a third year now and one of my best gfs at uni has now become a first year again because she only just realised that yes, Asian Studies and languages IS what SHE wants to do, and she's stuck with it:)
Also, your boyfriend might have different ideas about WHY he wants a college education than you and your parents. In my opinion, uni is not JUST about getting into a worthwhile job, it's about educating myself. If he's into Astronomy, sounds like that's what he's into too. He might not even be studying to get a job, but because he wants to learn. Or he's studying because he feels pressured that it's the ONLY way to gain worthwhile employment. You should both keep in mind that these days it's very rare for people to stay in a particular job for their whole lives, it seems more common to switch every decade.
As for how you're feeling, it's great you wanna help him out. But what do his immediate study stresses have to do with your future together? Remeber that "future" is a long long time yea? don't look too far ahead!
In any case, why don't you suggest he talk to some student advisors? he could make a list of what he's tried, what he's enjoyed and what he'd be willing to have a go with for a few years. Doing that means he wont suddenly be overwhelmed with the course options available.
Posts: 172 | From: Australia | Registered: Jul 2008
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Here's the thing: it's his life, not yours, so you cannot decide what he should do with it. That's something he has to decide entirely on his own. In fact, I'd say that what he's been doing (taking classes in different areas to figure out what he really enjoys and feels passionate about) is smart and a good decision. Might it help to know that the average amount of time it takes people to complete a bachelor's degree nowadays is a little over 5 years? And let's face it; the economy sucks right now. There's just no use in him rushing out to get a job he doesn't even feel great about, especially when it's unlikely he'll be able to get any jobs in this economy (it's hard on everyone, even people with advanced degrees and years of experience). So taking more time to figure out what he really wants to do, what will really make him happy to wake up and go to work everyday, is actually a good idea. I'd say the best way you can help him is by supporting him in whatever decision he makes, encouraging him to do the things he loves, and not looking at his transcript or telling him what classes to take. You are not his parent, and even if you were, deciding his class schedule would still be rather controlling. It's his life, and he needs to make those decisions on his own. He probably has an advisor he can talk to about these issues, and if he's struggling, that would be the best person to see, or perhaps his school's career counselor.
I'm hearing that you are a pretty ambitious person, and that's great! But you can't force that ambition onto others. I'm also hearing that you have some concerns about how your parents view him because of his academics, but again, he's in college. A lot of students don't even decide a major until junior or senior year. You walked into college knowing what you want to do, and that's really cool, but not everyone knows. For some it takes a little longer.
Different people view college in different ways. Some view it as a means to an end (like you, since you are viewing it as a way to get a degree in the field you want; nothing wrong with that). Some view it as socialization (and there's nothing wrong with that; we are social creatures). And some view it as a chance for self-exploration, like your boyfriend (and like myself, to tell the truth). People who view college as a chance for self-exploration are trying to figure out that thing they're really passionate about or just discover new things about themselves and the world around them (these would be people more inclined to liberal arts colleges).
So you know, I actually changed my major twice and my minors a few times, but I'm graduating on-time this Spring with a BA in a field I really love. If I'd just picked something and gone with it to make other people happy, I would be miserable right now. I needed the chance to figure out what I wanted to do, and it sounds like your boyfriend does, too.
I might also add that it's not really your parents' concern what career he picks or what he does in college. That's all pretty superficial stuff, in my opinion. What matters is how he treats you and if the relationship is healthy. (And believe me, I get this stuff. My parents are also highly educated, one taught at college level, the other at graduate level and is now a government researcher. But you know what? They've realized degrees don't tell you jack about a person's character. After all, you can have a PhD and be an abuser, or even a murderer.) You might try explaining to them, very calmly, that you are in this relationship and as far as you know, you will continue to stay in this relationship, and it's hurtful for them to talk about your partner and your relationship in such a negative way, and that you don't want to hear about other potential partners but just want to focus on this current one.
-------------------- Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007
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Thanks guys. I really appreciate the opportunity to look at all this from other perspectives. I'll try and slow down a bit and see the bigger picture and what's really important.
Posts: 87 | From: USA | Registered: Aug 2009
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