Dear Barb – Program Selection

Dear Barb:

I am in my first year at AU. I haven’t chosen a major yet and I ‘m not sure what direction to pursue. I enjoy working with people, but my parents want me to go into accounting. Do you have any suggestions on how I can do what I want without hurting my parents? They are funding my education, so I feel an obligation to consider their wishes.

Tim in New Brunswick

Hi Tim, as you know choosing a career is an important decision that requires careful thought. A good part of your life will be spent working in your chosen field, therefore it is very essential that you choose a path that will be not only fulfilling, but will provide you with the type of lifestyle that is important to you.

Your parents probably have their rationale for wanting you to go into accounting. Perhaps it is a family tradition. Was your father an accountant; maybe his father as well? Or do they own a family business and have a position for you when you finish school?

There could be many reasons your parents want you to go into this specific career. However, most parents want their children to be happy. You don’t mention if you have discussed your wishes with your parents. Moreover, you may want to investigate further what career you want to pursue. Working with people can include many different careers; social worker, teacher, human resource person, psychologist, the professions are varied.

Fortunately there is an abundance of information available on the Internet to assist you in finding information about various careers. You can take aptitude tests online; as well most career counseling centers offer similar tests. Usually the results of these tests mirror your interests, as we generally like to do what we do best. Additionally AU offers a self-assessment quiz on their web site under “Services to Students.” The test only takes a few minutes to complete. Afterwards you can discuss the results with an online academic adviser, either through email or telephone.

Perhaps you could then present the results to your parents. They may be more open to your desires if they see that your skills indicate the direction you should be following. Sharing this information with your parents will further reinforce your position.

When you consider that you will be spending approximately 10,000 days of your life working, you certainly have to do something where your skills, values and interests are all fully utilized. The ultimate pay off will be a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, thus giving you a more positive attitude in all aspects of your life.

Ultimately Tim, I’m sure your parents want you to lead a happy and fulfilled life, rather than doing something that you don’t want to do just to make them happy. Your question was a difficult one that requires a sensitive balance; therefore I hope I was able to help in some way.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.