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Whose Life is it Anyway?

Monday, Jul. 22, 2013

The best student comment on "Whose Life is it Anyway?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 4th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Robert is a sophomore in college majoring in accounting. He has never truly been interested in accounting, however. In fact, Robert is very passionate about filmmaking. Since his early years, he has known that he wants to become a director. He is only majoring in accounting at his parent’s wishes.
Robert’s parents are paying for his college, and as a result, he finds himself in a very difficult situation. Since his parents are paying for him to be at college, he understands why they should have some say in his major. At the same time, however, Robert believes that majoring in accounting is a huge waste of time for him, because in the future he knows he doesn’t want anything to do with accounting. 
Since Robert is not interested in accounting, his grades have recently suffered. While his parents stress the importance of getting a high GPA, he has been stuck in the 3.2 range throughout college.
Robert has just gotten his grades back for the spring quarter and he got a 3.1. His parents are upset that he was unable to get better grades. They insist that he can do better and that there is no reason why he isn’t doing so.
Robert finally strikes up the courage to tell his parents that he never wants to become an accountant. He tells them that he wants to become a filmmaker. Robert’s parents tell him this is an impractical dream of his. It should be a hobby not a career path. They insist that he stays in accounting and tell him that if he doesn’t start getting better grades his future is in trouble.
Many parents want to be involved in their child’s college education, especially when they are paying the bills. When is this desire to be involved reasonable guidance and when does it become intrusion? If students are 18 and adults, shouldn’t they be given freedom to be responsible for their own actions? Does Robert’s father have a right to feel upset about his low son’s low GPA? Should he be allowed to decide Robert’s major? What should Robert do?

Useful Resources: 

Choosing a Major in College: Do Parents Get a Say?

Comments Comments

Quentin Tarantino said on Jul 22, 2013
As a film/television studies major myself, I empathize with Robert's woes. I too struggled in my classes and barely maintained a 3.3 GPA while studying a subject I cared little about. Not until the end of my Sophomore year did I truly identify with my passion to study film/television and make the switch out of the Psychology department. My mother, who has a PhD in Psychology, was unnerved at first by my decision to switch - I did, after all, switch without informing my parents...oops. However, after sitting down with my parents and discussing my passion, it became clear that they were not upset by the fact that I switched majors, but rather that I took this long to confess to them my lofty aspirations, and that my grades suffered while I lingered in my silence. With their support, I have thrived in my new studies and am finally comfortable in my collegiate studies. Without a doubt, parents? involvement in collegiate studies becomes intrusion rather than guidance when they try and force their children to study something that they might not want to. It especially becomes intrusion when grades suffer because of said forced studies. College is a time of intellectual, emotional, and personal growth for students. If parents continue to hold their child?s hand and walk them through life, then that personal growth is encumbered. While it may be a difficult transition for parents to provide their child with the same level of freedom that they had in college, it is important that both parties understand what their expectations from each other are. Parents should sit down with their children and discuss what they expect from them while at college, and the children should respond with what they believe is most realistic about said expectations. Ultimately, it is essential that college students have the freedom to experience their first steps into adulthood without their parents (only their guidance), and not have their development as a functioning member of society be hindered by a lack of personal freedom. As for Robert's situation, I sympathize with the conflict he has with his parents. I understand his parents' concerns with studying to be a director in the film/television industry. Statistically, it is much more professionally and financially secure to study to become an accountant than it is to try and become a director in Hollywood. However, if Robert is not passionate about a pursuit in the accounting profession, then it is impossible to force him to try and follow down that path. His grades from his first year-and-a-half at University should be an indicator to his parents that he struggles to find an interest in accounting. Without a doubt, parents are always going to have a minimum GPA expectation of their child, especially since their paying for his education. However, Robert's parents should understand that without a passion for the subject he is majoring in, Robert will continue to struggle to raise his GPA. I think that they should work out a deal in which for Robert's junior year, he switches to the film school. If his GPA continues to decrease, then it will be clear that there is some other issue causing Robert's grades to dwindle. However, if his grades increase, then his parents should let him consider pursuing his dream. It's a win-win situation. Robert's grades will increase and he will be happy doing so. - Like - 3 people like this.
Spike Lee said on Jul 23, 2013
Quentin Tarantino is wrong - Like - 5 people like this.
Jeremy said on Jul 29, 2013
Because Robert's parents are not obligated to pay Robert's tuition in the first place, they are then able to qualify their aid in any way they want. It may not be very good for Robert's side, but the idea that you can do what you want and expect your parents to pay your way through it is foolish. On the other thand, Robert's father is not entitled to feel bad about Robert's 3.1 GPA. Robert is just beginning his sophomore year, meaning that a single poor grade in a class could have a major effect on his GPA. Furthermore, a 3.1 is a perfectly reasonable GPA that could be increased easily. Robert's parents also do not know why Robert's grades are suffering?perhaps he is still unused to the pressures of college as compared to high school, or maybe he is simply not an accounting genius and gets average grades. Robert's parents, if they expect him to get a career in accounting, should help him do better in the accounting department, not insist that it's his fault he's doing poorly in a major his heart isn't in. As for Robert, depending on the school he goes to there could still be opportunities to take courses in directing; if not, he can join a film club and do other extracurricular activities that relate to film and directing. - Like
Jon said on Jul 30, 2013
Since Robert's parents are paying the bills for his education, I do believe that they should be allowed to be angered by the fact that his GPA is low. It seems to me as if Robert's parents know his capabilities as a student and know that he is not putting forth his best effort. My parents have always said that it doesn't matter what the outcome of a task is if you give it your best effort. That being said, I also believe that Robert should be able to choose his own major. He should listen to and seriously consider any advice his parents have, because in the end they are simply looking out for his best interests, but at the end of the day Robert needs to pick a major he is interested in, and can then, perform well in. My parents always used to tell me, also, that you should find something that you love to do and are good at and learn as much as you can about it. If you are good at something, you should find a way to get paid for it. If you find something that you enjoy doing and pursue it as a career, you will always be excited to wake up in the morning and go to work, and in result you will perform well. Robert needs to choose his own major because in the end, if Robert can't look himself in the eye in a mirror and feel he has accomplished what he desire in life, then he has failed. - Like
JMR said on Jul 30, 2013
Since Robert has expressed that he doesn?t want ?anything to do with accounting in his future?, it sounds like whether or not he completes his degree, he has no intention of applying his knowledge in the field of accounting. Having many close friends and family members studying and working in the accounting field, it is clear to me that the profession requires a lot of hard work, long hours, and intense dedication to continued learning. I have heard many stories of people who chose to major in accounting simply because it would guarantee a job after graduation despite having little to no interest in their studies. They were not passionate about their studies or their career and they were either miserable every day at work, or could not cut it in the workplace and were let go. To force Robert into accounting could result in a waste of his education if he does not work in business where he can apply his accounting knowledge, or a forced career and work life unhappiness. At some point Robert will need to have the life skills available to make his own career and life choices and by not being able to practice these skills in college, he may be lacking the ability to make decisions for himself and to be a responsible adult in the future. The issue of financing his education does complicate the matter, but if Robert?s parents realize that forcing him to study something he has no interest in may result in Robert achieving lower grades, being unfulfilled in college and beyond, and lacking necessary independent thinking and decision making skills? which does not sound like a good investment financially or in their son?s future. Robert?s parents want what they believe is best for their son. If Robert continues to be open and honest about his passion for filmmaking, is realistic about the difficulties of the field, and shows his parent?s his determination to succeed and work hard, they may see that accounting is indeed not the best option. If he continues to not do well in school, he should at least be able to be accountable and take responsibility for his grades and not blame his parent's for forcing him to study something he does not care about. This would be a valuable life lesson in responsibility and hard work. Perhaps a double major compromise could be made. For example, Robert can receive a general business degree in addition to filmmaking, thus gaining valuable business education needed in the film industry while also keeping a backup plan in business available. - Like
Rohan Surve said on Jul 30, 2013
Robert's parents, knowing that Robert is not interested majoring in Accounting should not force him to do so. I partially agree with Robert's dad that accounting is more secured career than becoming film director. But what is wrong in Robert's dad's thinking is he is considering Life as a Race to become successful. I feel is Life is not just a race to become successful. Rather I say if one pursues excellence then success will follow his path. Excellence always creates success. In Robert's case, I appreciate that he kept courage to tell his parents that he want to pursue career in film making. He must convince his parents that when a hobby becomes profession then he will be able to pursue excellence. Robert must also explain that if he continues to do accounting then too he will survive and win but he won't be able to prove himself genius. Robert does not want to die as a mediocre. I feel Robert's dad should allow Robert to pursue his passion of becoming film maker. I am of believe that if you follow your passion for years, you will surely be somebody one day. - Like
Kabir said on Jul 30, 2013
Robert should talk to his parents again about his passion in FIlm Studies. He clearly wants to pursue it as a career, and has every right to do so. If his parents want to continue supporting him in achieving his dreams, Robert should be able to prove it to them with better grades at Film School. However, if his parents do not want to support such a career change, Robert has a big decision to make. He has the option of no longer using his parents' money in funding his college career, and taking on student loans to complete his education at Film School. If he does choose this path, he will have massive amounts of debt to pay off in the coming years, but will be able to follow his passions. This will be a true test of Robert's willpower and drive to become a Hollywood Director. From the parents' perspective, Robert's dream of becoming a Hollywood Director is quite volatile. Such a path is nowhere near as stable as a career in accounting. Robert's parents simply want their son to be successful and stable once he leaves the house and is in the real world. They are attempting to do everything in their power to ensure his success. Despite their will to ensure his success, Robert's parents are missing a huge part of college - the responsibility of making one's own decisions, and the exploration of one's self that occurs during these four important years. Robert must be allowed to make decisions on his own, and his parents should take more of a backseat role for the coming years. Robert's parents need to start giving their child advice and guiding him, instead of forcing him down one path over another. - Like
Clay said on Jul 30, 2013
Whether or not his parents are paying for his degree, Robert definitely has his own right to choose his major. It is his life, and no one else will have to live with what major he chooses besides himself. That being said, I do think that Rob's parents have a right to be angry at his GPA. If your parents pay for college, they are under the assumption that they are paying for a certain value of education. Getting low grades shows that effort is not being placed and that you are not taking advantage of the education that is being paid for you. If Robert is insistent that he doesn't need to get good grades to succeed, then maybe he should start paying his own bills and see how that affects the amount of effort he puts forth. - Like
The Big Q said on Aug 7, 2013
Congratulations to Quentin Tarantino for winning the $100 Amazon gift certificate for his comment on "Whose Life Is it Anyway?" The comments in general were so good this time that we had to call in extra people as tie-breakers in the judging. Please keep posting your thoughts. - Like
I personally think that Robert should be allowed to do what he wants to. I can see the implication of his parents paying for his education and that they don't believe in Robert's dreams. But at the end of the day it is Robert that has to go through the education and hate his job for the rest of his life. If Robert can tell his parents that the chance of him working as a accounted is as much as zero, then I would say that he is doing his parents a favour by telling him how he feel about this major that he has been pushed into, because right now Roberts parents are just throwing money out of the window. Robert should quit the course and chase his dreams instead even if his parents don't agree with it. - Like
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