If so, think beyond the moment they step off of campus; think beyond the first job and beyond the first five years. Here is why: you are setting them up to fail.
You see, you are right about one thing: “intense focus on extrinsic rewards [like money] can indeed deliver fast results” (Pink 76-77). So, yes, if your son or daughter graduates with a degree in science or engineering, there is a good chance he or she will make more money the moment they step off of college campuses. “The trouble is,” argues Daniel Pink in his book Drive (2009), “this approach is difficult to sustain [. . .]. The most successful people [. . .] often aren’t directly pursuing conventional notions of success [like money]. They’re working hard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about the world, and accomplish something that endures” (77). In other words, by focusing on money, you are killing off your son’s or daughter’s intrinsic motivation and drive toward life-long success. And in the end, they will be poorer individuals because of it.
While making a good salary is important, and we all wish our children will be able to support themselves generously, we must remember that scientific evidence shows “that individuals motivated by money have poorer psychological health,” including more self-defensive and publicly self-conscious behavior, while people who are intrinsically motivated by learning and growth “have higher self-esteem, better interpersonal relationships, and greater general well-being” (Pink 78). Individuals whose motivators are not money, are “devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And these quests for excellence are connected to a larger purpose (Pink 78-79).
So the next time you encourage your son or daughter to pursue a science-based degree, consider how studies in art and literature, world cultures or theatre, philosophy or Latin can develop your child’s intrinsic desire to learn and grow, to question and argue, to wonder, to imagine and to tell new stories that will not only change their worlds for one or five years, but will change your kids for a life-time, for the better.