File this under unsolicited advice:

I have a pretty wide practical streak. Although I had many impractical interests, I ensured that I got a practical education and college degree with which I could be employed immediately. Certainly, I am not alone in this, but as a young Mormon woman, it was more rare than I would have imagined.

In fact, we have a whole body of humor around young women who, we joke, attend college just to meet someone to marry. Women who go into “soft” majors like elementary education (disclosure: I currently teach elementary school) and, shudder, anything in the School of Family Life, are said to be seeking not an education, but a husband. And in this kind of economy, let’s face it, we can throw in most majors in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, too—people graduating with these degrees are not stepping out into the welcoming arms of industry (disclosure: I was a history major/English minor with teaching degree). Sure, there are men in these impractical majors, too (and why does no one accuse them of only being after an M.R. degree?), but they KNOW they are going to have to support a family, so they probably have practical plans, like graduate school, or joining the family business, or marrying rich.

And you know what, lots of adult Mormons think it is just fine for a girl to go and get an impractical degree. Because they are going to get married. And someone else will have the responsibility of providing for them and their B.A. in sociology. The only girls who need to have actual life skills are the ones who will need to work. You know, the ugly, fat, and opinionated–those girls can’t reasonably expect to be married at 21 (disclosure–I was one of those girls).

I have come to believe the very opposite to be true.

The girls who are not married may be as impractical as they wish. After all, without husband or children to worry about, they can easily live on low-paying jobs, flit off to work for a year or two or five at Disneyland Tokyo, and go for a decade or so without health insurance. No big deal. It is the married ones who should worry. The dreaded three Ds of Young Womens’ lessons could knock on their door any day: death, disease, or divorce. YW around the world are routinely taught these are the reasons they should be able to support themselves. Shouldn’t the married ones, the ones with mouths to feed, be the ones ready to get a job the day after their spouse leaves or is paralyzed? After all, single girls have time to go back to school, live lean on student loans, and eventually get some practical skills. It is the married mothers that don’t have the luxury of moving home with mom and dad to finally get that MBA.

Let me be clear: I don’t think everyone needs a graduate degree, or even an undergraduate. I just think everyone, especially those a car accident away from being a breadwinner, needs marketable skills. If you are a gifted chef, cool, get some business and marketing skills and incorporate yourself. If you need creativity, learn to cut hair. If you crave security, learn some trade skills like electricians and mechanics and plumbers have. Just don’t sit home folding clothes with your Art History degree and bank on your hubby’s income. Your kids deserve better than that.

I would LOVE to hear what fields you think are the most practical.