Article - What Should I Take in College? by Brent Jones
What should I take in college?
As I cruise from one job-seekers forum to another online attempting to offer what value I can to its various threads, this question seems to come up a lot amongst the under-20 crowd.
College applicants raise a series of important questions, including:
Should I study what interests me?
Should I major in what I am already good at?
I can understand why a young person with a future ahead might ask these questions, but I would be inclined to answer no on both counts.
Let me give a preamble before I continue.
If ever since you have been a small child, you dreamed of being a nurse, or a firefighter, or a travel agent, and you are now 18+ and still want the same thing – then yes. Follow your dreams but realize that nothing comes easy.
But if you are anything like I was when I was 18, you are probably full of hope, fears, anxiety, dreams, ideas, ideals, wants, possibilities, etc.
So to begin first with your interests, let’s be very clear. Your interests will change. They have several times already in the past two decades, and it is unlikely they will stop now.
When I graduated from high school, I was convinced that I either wanted to be a journalist or a teacher. As “damn the man” and “anti-corporate” as I was at the time, I could not imagine being in business. Sure enough, by the end of my first year of political science, I switched majors and began to study marketing instead. And that took less than one year, folks.
And as far as what you are good at, I would encourage you to stop and think – are you really good enough at it presently to be employable?Probably not. If so, it is unlikely you would be heading off to college at all. You still have a lot to learn. Just because you know how to set the table right now does not mean that have better odds of becoming a master chef in 3-4 years.
So let’s talk about what really matters – becoming employable.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What jobs are in high-demand where I plan to go to school?
What program can I take that is not over-enrolled?
What skills can I learn that will still be in demand in 10 years?
Which program will offer me training I can use beyond my first few years out of school?
I am not suggesting that you should major in something you hate just to get a job. But I am suggesting that you should narrow your focus to areas that will present employment opportunities upon graduation. The average student graduates with $20,000 of student debt – do you want to be faced with that debt load without any plausible means of paying it back?
If you love to learn, that’s great. I do too. But you can learn without getting a degree or diploma or any other kind of certification.
If you have the time, desire and available resources to major in something that does not meet any of the above criteria but satisfies a passion – however fleeting it may be – go for it. But the reality is that most of us live in the “real world” where we have to make choices that will have consequences, particularly with respect to finances and becoming employable. So before you dive head first into that psychology degree with the best of intentions to become a psychologist or psychiatrist in the next 8-15 years, stop to consider what is practical for your twenties.
Education is just one vehicle to help you get where you are going. Make sure your choice is in alignment with your expectations for your career. Simply graduating will not be enough to land a job. Choose wisely.
This is quite a thought provoking article Brent, it is true that what we want seems to change all the time and some decisions need to be well thought out with consequences in mind but I also find a quite large number of people that are generally dissatisfied and unfulfilled with the jobs they have and feel they are wrongly placed as a result of the "sober" decisions they made.