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College can be a great time to explore your intellectual interests and to learn about yourself. Without direction, however, students can easily lose track of their original career aspirations. Sure, that major in 17th century French poetry might speak to the essence of your soul, but have you considered what jobs await you upon graduation? If a clear, realistic answer doesn’t immediately spring to mind, soul-searching of another nature might be in order.
Changing majors = changing your career outlook
When most students begin college, they have at least some idea of what profession they want to enter when they graduate. By the time they reach their junior year, many of these same students will have changed their major multiple times, often increasing the overall time they spend earning their undergraduate degrees. The average college student changes majors three times before graduation. Some change their major as many as eight or nine times.
A college degree doesn’t guarantee a degree related job
Unfortunately, many of these changes don’t translate into degree-related careers after college. All too often, students make these choices based entirely upon their level of interest in the subject, and not on their interest in the jobs relating to that particular field of study. A graduating English major, for example, has to plan for the distinct possibility that they won’t be working as a novelist or other writing professional immediately after graduation. Instead, they might end up competing with other liberal arts majors for customer service jobs, managerial positions, etc. If a love of writing was the only thing motivating their decision to pursue an English degree, better choices could have been made.
The Graduate School option
Another major consideration for students choosing a college path is the potential to attend graduate school. If you would love to be a professor and you perform well in classes relating to your major, graduate school might be a viable option. Start working with your academic advisor and professors early on so that your graduate school applications are as competitive as possible. Realize that, in certain fields, earning a PhD doesn’t necessarily translate into a higher salary in the corporate sector.
Choose your career, not a degree.
Your future interests are best served when you choose a major based upon what job you’d enjoy, not which courses appeal to you at the moment. That doesn’t mean you should completely ignore these preferences when choosing a degree, only that it shouldn’t be the only consideration. The current generation of college students can expect to retire at around 70 years of age. Choosing a career instead of a major will go a long way toward ensuring that the years you spend working are fulfilling.
Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships.org. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
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