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Help! Our daughter wants to major in art history

Dear Father Paul: This isn’t a “religious question,” but my husband, my daughter and I are having a serious disagreement over what she plans as a major when she starts college in 2014. She is a very gifted artist, loves art and wants to major in art history. We are not wealthy, but plan to help her financially. We both strongly feel that jobs in art history are very few and far between and that she is just setting herself up for serious struggles ahead. What do you think? — The Joneses. (not our real name)

Dear Mr. and Mrs. “Jones,”

This is a tough one. On the one hand a person who is old enough to go to college should be old enough to decide their major. On the other hand, if the two of you are paying a major portion of her expenses, then you should have at least some say in the end product of your investment. You owe her, too, the wisdom of your years.

Government figures for 2012 college graduates show that a little over 50 percent of them still do not have jobs more than a year after graduating. Indeed, the job situation for all newly minted 2013 graduates with a bachelor’s degree is not much better. Sadly, lots and lots of new graduates have even had to move back into their old rooms with Mom and Dad.  Many more have been unable to find positions in their major fields and have had to take low-end jobs at low-end wages. Economists tell us that this may likely be the “norm” for years and years to come … perhaps for the next decade. How sad to study, work hard and spend a small fortune for a degree only to find that there are no jobs in the field you love and have chosen.

But the sad truth that many young grads are discovering is that, in retrospect, their major should have been in a field that offers job openings … and that it’s one thing to “love” their particular major field of study, but quite another to “starve.” They are discovering that one also has to eat and have a roof over one’s head.

While higher education, is indeed a great investment simply for the learning and knowledge it provides, its ultimate goal must also be to prepare a person to support themselves financially after graduation. In this regard one’s “major” can be of huge importance.

Some basic research on Google can easily give you the facts the three of you need to know about future job prospects in art history before you decide the best course going forward. You still have plenty of time. Your daughter’s high school counselor can also be an excellent resource in this regard. Contacting and talking to some people currently in the art history field is a good idea too. Maybe one of these folks would take your daughter under his/her wing and be her mentor.

If you discover that job prospects in art history indeed look poor for the present and the future, I would recommend that your daughter still go ahead and major in art history if she wants, but, (and this is important) get her “minor” in education (teaching). Then, if she doesn’t immediately latch onto a job in art history per se,  she can still  pursue the field she loves (art) and, as an art teacher, share this love with youngsters over many years while making a decent living at the same time.  

My parents insisted on a similar course for me when I wanted to major in history.  I complied, and I ended up as a history teacher, then a principal and I enjoyed a wonderful 13-year career in education before a 25-year career in business and the last nine-years in the ministry.  Good Luck.

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[Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Ga. Church of the Holy Cross is a “convergence church,” where all three original streams of the ancient, New Testament church … sacramental, evangelical and charismatic, function and flow together as one river.  See our ad on the opposite page titled: “What Are Services At Church of the Holy Cross Like?” Then visit our web site at for more information, directions, service times and Father Paul’s Sunday messages.]


zoes's picture

This is an easy one. I've done it twice.

Send the kid to a 2-year college to get her core classes done. If she still wants to major in Art History after that, she can use the money she saved from working part-time those 2 years to pay for it herself. As an adult.


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." Miss Piggy

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