Clearly, I wasn’t just explaining; I was over-explaining in an attempt to rationalize how Emma’s chosen path will turn into a steady paycheck. It’s as if her employment status were a referendum on the choices that my husband and I have made about her education. In retrospect, I’d hit a common pitfall: equating Emma’s personal success with my own success as a parent.
Yet the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve decided to be honest. “I’m not sure what Emma is going to do,” I now say. “But she’s gotten a great education and has really found her passion—and I know those things will serve her well over the course of her life.”
Don’t get me wrong; we are not immune to the high cost of college. Emma’s father and I have made sacrifices to give her, and her brother, the kind of education we value. There will be loans to pay when she graduates—and, yes, my husband and I will foot that bill. And, of course, we will be thrilled if Emma finds work come May and doesn’t have to move back in with us.
But from the beginning, we never urged her to pick a college or a major with an eye on its expected return on investment, as more and more families are doing.