The idea that students have the intellectual freedom to learn essentially anything that they want can be overwhelming. We have the ability to forge our own professional direction, and the thought itself can be terrifying.
I would encourage parents and students who are nervous about the practical applications of an English degree, or career prospects for a history major, to reconsider the straight, causal line they've drawn between college major and professional success.
Students are told to be practical and find a major that will serve them in practical terms carrying them to a life in engineering or accounting. Or they are told to find a passion and follow that. Neither is quite right.
I've spent much of the last two weeks on the phone -- or on Skype -- with a set of incoming first-year college students armed with an array of questions both profoundly intellectual and suitably quotidian.