I want to study biotechnology and become an engineer. I'm a straight A's student and as the eldest daughter I'm quite disciplined. However, my parents don't want me to study that career and are forcing me to study instead finances. Reasons are that I have the "obligation" to continue the family's business, and that studying biotechnology on a nearby city would be too expensive even thought it's a public university.

I have already talked with my mom and just expressed her my feelings and wishes but she told me I was being ungrateful and selfish, and that I wouldn't last long on the cruel outside world so I should probably stick with a career that already has for me a planned success.

The thing is that no matter how good it sounds to stay I just feel miserable about it. I wish to become a scientist, to create new things and help others with my knowledge, to make history, and, forgive me if this sounds cocky, I know I have the potential to do so much more than just stay on an office.

I told her that I was considering just leaving and live on my own if the economical burden was a problem but she then started to scold me for having such a naive and foolish thought. That she knows best for me and that I shouldn't do something so stupid out of whim. That between all my sisters I was the best "shot" they had to push this family up to riches. I'm considering now moving out as soon as I finish high school but the thought of me being wrong just crawls on me every night, what should I do?

  • 6
    If you are still in high school, then the question concerns undergraduate admissions, which is not in the scope of Academia. I sympathize with your family dilemma, though, and hope you find someone who can help.
    – Philly
    Oct 19 '19 at 17:01
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    In which culture are you? In mainstream Western culture, your parents' expectations are unreasonable; in other cultures, they might be reasonable, but it might be an option to leave that culture altogether. Oct 19 '19 at 18:38
  • 3
    Need a lot more information for a good answer, What country are you located in? How would you/your parents pay for college, if it isn't paid for by the government? Could you get scholarships, grants, or loans to pay for it? In your country/academic culture, is it acceptable to work for a period between high school & college? And perhaps most important, in your country, can your parents legally force you to do this?
    – jamesqf
    Oct 20 '19 at 2:47
  • 1
    Since this is more interpersonal issues SE than Academia question, I can only recommend this question be migrated there. As a side note, perhaps there is something that can be done to both let you peacefully pursue your goals and to reduce the stress of your parents. 1) bioengineering could be a quite well-rewarded career depending on where exactly you do it, which could be a help to your family's business every now and then, and 2) maybe any of your other sisters does show interest in what your parents expect and her potential plans are more aligned with their wishes.
    – Gnudiff
    Oct 20 '19 at 9:16
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    @Gnudiff I'm hesitant to migrate this question to Interpersonal SE because, given the policies there, the answers already given here would be probably deleted, which can be a pity. Since the question is already closed here, I suggest Anemix01 to ask a new question there if they wish.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Oct 20 '19 at 11:29

You are presumably an adult, you should not do something so important to your life as studying only for your parents wishes. Guilt-tripping children is very bad parenting, you should not feel ashamed to do your own thing.

However, before you start doing your own thing, think about what the consequences could be. Can you afford studying without your parents help? Can you afford being at war with your family? Is there some sort of compromise you can find with your parents? Those questions only you can answer, and you (unfortunately) have to consider them. But never feel ashamed for studying what you want to.

  • @R..: I disagree. First, I do think it's about undergrad, next, your statement is wrong in my country. Finally, yes, I am very much thinking about lifestyle costs.
    – Thomas
    Oct 20 '19 at 7:14
  • I deleted the comment because I missed that OP is still in HS and just about to start college (undergrad). Where are you that non-funded grad science programs are considered legitimate? Oct 20 '19 at 7:15
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    @R..: Western Europe. Since you emphasized Science: Is there in your experience a difference in funding between Science and non-Science studies?
    – Thomas
    Oct 20 '19 at 7:29
  • Yes, sadly most non-science/math grad programs in the US are pay-your-own-way or have only very limited support, compared to fully supported being the norm for math and science. Oct 20 '19 at 7:57
  • @R..: Okay, I think in terms of funding and legitimacy, here all grad programs are like your non-science programs. (However, for most people, education is free.)
    – Thomas
    Oct 20 '19 at 8:43

Though possibly somewhat out of scope for this site, as I assume it relates to undergraduate studies, here are my two cents anyway, as I sympathize with your dilemma, and have, sadly, seen it time and time again.

First of all, going into university studies without having your heart in it, is rarely a good idea. This is a common source of burn-out for students - if you don't have an inner drive, it can be quite difficult to become a successful student. Keeping that in mind, my first suggestion would be to try and convince your parents that biotechnology can be a good idea. But how? They seem to be quite keen that earning potential for your future career is important - well, biotechnology is exactly that. Biotech-engineers in industry can potentially rake in quite sizeable salaries, and since stuff like personalized medicine is only going one way - up - this is likely to continue. Try and find the average salaries of graduates from the program you want to enlist in, and show this to your parents. If you don't know where to look, try and write to the admissions office.

Good luck!


I'm going to approach this from a different angle.

Why do you parents think the family business is a guaranteed success, and what do they think a finance degree will contribute?

There is a long, long list of well-established businesses which fail because the person (or people) in charge don't run it well. Presumably it is currently successful because your father is good at running it. There is no guarantee that you would be any good at all at it.

In any case, the techniques you would learn in a finance degree are incredibly unlikely to be applicable to any business which is not a multi-billion-dollar multinational corporation. In a small business, simple life experience is more likely to be useful, and that you should learn on the job by shadowing your father.

If she thinks you can't survive in the outside world, you aren't the right person to run the company anyway. There is no job more stressful than being responsible for an entire company. If she doesn't think you're tough enough to survive a uni course, you're not the right person to run a company.

And if you can, and you can prove you're a success with your own ideas, perhaps with a degree under your belt you might be more inclined to try working in the family business.


As an undergraduate, you will likely have to take prerequisites. You can buy yourself time on the issue by taking the prerequisites common to both majors. As an example, Calculus is needed for most finance/science related majors.

Would have commented, but I don’t have enough rep.

  • This depends on location. While this might be true for American universities, it might not be true in other places like Australia where they have much more focused degrees where you only take classes relevant to your degree, which you select at the very beginning of your study - if you wanted to change from a Bachelor of Business to a Bachelor of Bioengineering, you’d need to reapply and basically start your degree all over again aside from a few courses you might be awarded Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for.
    – nick012000
    Oct 20 '19 at 2:58
  • @nick1012000 it is true in Australia too - I started a bachelor of science majoring in maths & physics, I later changed my mind and started over in computer science but was able to bring across all of my maths units and some of my physics ones as electives.
    – Erin
    Oct 20 '19 at 4:10
  • @Erin Sure, but that can vary quite a bit depending on your courses. When I went from a mechatronics engineering degree to an IT degree, I got to keep less than a semester’s worth of classes out of the year and a half of classes I’d completed at that point. I doubt there’d be much overlap between Business and Bioengineering.
    – nick012000
    Oct 20 '19 at 4:51
  • This is likely the best answer. Get as much of your studies as you can paid for, and avoid unnecessary fighting at the same time, by stringing them along. Work and save some money of your own. Then switch to what you actually want to do once you have some leverage. Oct 20 '19 at 7:14
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    This (the fact with the prerequisites) is not true for most European countries.
    – Thomas
    Oct 20 '19 at 10:17

Many of the answers respond from a Western perspective. Western culture (generally speaking) values individual freedom and personal autonomy. As you can see, many Western people here are horrified at the thought that your parents would have any say in your life, once you turn 18. (Indeed, if you're coming from a Western culture, I'd be inclined to agree with them!)

If on the other hand you are coming from a non-Western culture, I would guess that you are being tugged in two different directions, to be loyal and obedient to your parents from your home culture, and to be a free and autonomous individual, perhaps based in part on the pull from Western culture (and, perhaps, based on the idealized version of Western culture presented in Western media!).

As a person, you'll need to think carefully about how to proceed. There is no right and wrong answer. If you're coming from a non-Western culture, I would just caution that you be sensitive to the consequences of any decisions you take. A common trope in Western fiction is that the protagonist succeeds immediately once she begins to believe in herself (for a recent example, see Captain Marvel). But life is not a movie—even in the West it's an overly simplistic approach to the way the world works.

If you would like to learn more about the pluses and minuses of various cultural values, I think that the work of Geert Hofstede and Gert Jan Hofstede does a very good job of presenting an even-handed analysis (especially their book Cultures and Organizations). You could also watch movies about immigrants and the children of immigrants (such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding or The Joy Luck Club) as a way to think about how other people navigate between two cultural worlds.


Your parents don't owe you any support after you are 18. You don't owe them obedience either.

My advice is to either work things out, or just do your own thing. If they are paying for school (or living expenses) than it is reasonable for them to dictate what they spend on.

P.s. Finance is actually not that bad. Pretty useful and portable across different industries (to include pharma).

  • 4
    That depends entirely on the location. In Germany your parents owe you an education (by law), including potentially going to university, or until you are 25. You don't owe them anything after you turn 18, though. I'm sure there are cultures where the norms or laws are exactly the opposite, you continue owing your parents, but they don't owe you anything.
    – Graipher
    Oct 20 '19 at 6:53
  • @Grapher At some point if your parents get old and need expensive care, you might find that in Germany, you do owe them.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 20 '19 at 15:21

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