There are more choices than ever for college students when it comes to picking a degree. But with more degrees to choose from it can become confusing and overwhelming when the fateful moment comes to actually commit.
However, there are a few tips and questions you should keep in mind when it comes to looking through the catalog of choices that will make sure you continue on your unique path.
Know What You Value
The things that will propel you the most throughout your life are your values, what you stand for, and what you will fight for. While it’s only one area to consider when deciding on a degree, it’s important to remember that if you have a career or role that fits with your values, you will come home satisfied and refreshed knowing you’re achieving your life’s purpose and any obstacles you face are only momentary hurdles and not unclimbable mountains. There may be people out there making more money than you but they will be vastly more unhappy compared to yourself if they’re not in a role that aligns with their values.
If you believe deeply that society should take care of everyone, especially those who tend to fall through the cracks, maybe a degree in social work is for you. Or if you believe that ordinary things like homes and offices should be beautiful works of art, maybe architecture is for you. Or if you are passionate about justice, and value a just society, a degree in criminal justice might be right up your alley.
What Are Your Passions?
If you’re struggling to pick a degree, just know that if you are excited about the field or the career it could lead to, and not just the idea of being a fancy lawyer with an expensive suit and a big office, but really excited about the day-to-day work, that might be the field for you. Again, it’s easy to get caught up in the prestige of a possible career. Doctors are well respected and compensated well, but if the thought of blood makes you squeamish then that’s probably not the career for you, even if you’d love it if everyone called you “doctor”. Instead, pick a degree that lines up with the actual work that you will be doing. If you love the technical work of writing code and slaving away on a computer, maybe a degree in computer science is the career for you. Again, if you read that computer science is the fastest growing industry and you can’t wait to get in on it, but really want to work outdoors with your hands, maybe check your interests and passions again before choosing what was recommended based on industry growth. Suggested – Volume of a Cube – Quick Guide with Example
If you’re still not exactly sure what you’d like to major in, a good idea is to ask questions. There are advisors and counselors you can speak with and go for guidance and get some advice. Even if you’re certain of the degree and career you’d like to pursue, it can never hurt to ask around and get some perspective. In fact, if you have a vague idea of what you’d like to pursue, call professionals you know in that field, or even try cold calling someone in your area that works in the industry. These people who are living and working in the career you are interested in can give you the best idea of what your life might be like if you choose to go down this path. They can warn you of common pitfalls and will likely have a lot of advice and stories if you ask them what they would do differently if they were your age facing these same decisions.
Consider Future Job Opportunities
That being said, don’t just dedicate thousands of dollars and years to your life to becoming an art history major because you like bumming around museums. Not that bumming around museums is a bad thing! But it’s wise to consider the future employment that your college degree will afford you. Research industry trends, which areas are growing? Where do they expect a shortage of workers? Which industries may not exist in 10, 20 years? Better yet, consider a more broad degree like communications that can open the doors to many different jobs and careers, rather than a hyper-specific niche that won’t translate readily into different roles.
In the end, while choosing your degree is a major life decision, it’s not the end all be all. You can still change your mind and take a different route, or wait and think about it for a while longer. In fact, it’s way better to change your mind early than get right near the finish line before realizing that this degree and the future it represents is nothing like the future you want for yourself. That’s not to say there’s an exact perfect job out there that will never feel like work or will be totally painless and easy. There is work that will satisfy your calling and longing for meaning, but if there weren’t sweat and blood involved it wouldn’t gratify you either.