I Don't Know What To Do In College?

By Amanda HoyleJanuary 7, 2022
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Amanda Hoyle
Amanda is a proficient and widely published educational leader, with Master's degrees in both Education and Psychology.
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For a degree that might take you as long as 4-5 years to get, you want to make sure you are making a choice you’ll appreciate in the future. The average young person enters college after they finish High School at age 17-19. Some people consider that too early to decide your career choice. Some make their choice as early as 6 and actually go on to be what they had decided to be at that age. There are others, however, who actually make their desired career choice in their thirties.

There is no exact timeline on when exactly you should be sure of your desired career choice. Not being certain of your career choice at the end of High School doesn’t make you a late bloomer in life. When you listen to your peers talk about their five-year plan, you’re so impressed but you only end up feeling terrible over your inability to decide on yours yet. No rule says you should have your career path planned out already before entering college. So if you’ve not made a specific choice on your career path yet, how then should you choose a course to study?

You’re probably wondering; Should I follow my passion? Pick a random high-paying career path? Or Should I even go to college?

Here are some of the things people consider before deciding what to do in college:

Follow Your Interests/Passions:

If you have always had something you are passionate about, pursue it. If you really want something you should not stop until you get it. The good thing about studying something you’re passionate about is most times you excel at it because you find it enjoyable putting your energy into learning more on the said topic. Sometimes, your passion might not have lucrative career paths. It is left to you to decide if not following through with your passion will cause you to regret later or you choose to go for a more employable course of study.

Going For The Money: 

Sometimes, it is okay to leave your passion as a hobby. Considering the high amount it costs to go into college, you can see it as an investment that must generate returns. With this point of view, students can decide to choose an employable subject of interest. 

There is a myth that says STEM courses have higher pay and liberal arts courses are not employable. Research has found that to be untrue. A New York Times report by David Deming shows that STEM college graduates get high paying jobs right out of college, but liberal art college graduates end up reaching and surpassing them at the peak of their earning years. The piece titled “In the Salary race, engineers sprint but English Majors Endure” demystifies the common myth that STEM-type degrees holders earn better  than Liberal arts.

Going Undeclared If You Aren’t Ready To Choose A Major.

If you’re undecided, there is the option to go undeclared in your college application. Let’s talk about some myths about choosing a major:

Myth 1: You have to pick out a major before applying to college

Freshman age students might not have the capacity to specifically choose their major at that stage and if they do, will most likely change them later on. Most college Institutions don’t require you to choose a major until the end of your Sophomore year because of this. You have the time to experience the different majors the college has to offer before making a choice.

Myth 2: It will determine your career.

Yes, you want to study a major that you’ll find useful in future but it doesn’t have to determine your career. People change careers multiple times in a lifetime and it is not usually dependent on their major in college. The anxiety of deciding what to study comes from the pressure of thinking that you cannot have a career outside of what your major was in college. Only 27% of graduates have a career related to what they studied in college, a report says. 

Myth 3: You have to choose a STEM major if you want to make plenty of money.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Examples of STEM courses include aerospace engineering, computer science, chemical engineering, astronomy, mechanical engineering. Courses that fall under this range of disciplines tend to lead to careers in innovation. Their career progression seems very straightforward. For example, mechanical engineers can work in a Motor company like Ford. But, sometimes it is not so straightforward; STEM degree holders can work in Hollywood or even finance.

Looking at the top end of the pay scale, STEM and engineering graduates earn the highest, compared to average college graduates. As said earlier, Liberal arts college graduates end up earning higher in the long run. 

According to another research by Insider, the careers that produced the most billionaires are banking and finance. This leaves the idea of the highest paying career a hard one to determine. But Of course, some career paths are really low compared to others i.e teaching is not as lucrative as medicine. You don’t have to focus on high-paying STEM courses if it doesn’t interest you.

Myth 4: Majors are the only way to get experience in a field

In some Universities, you can decide to design your own majors and not have to go for the pre-listed option. Many students however think majors are the only way to get experience in a field so end up choosing more multiple majors even though it is difficult to handle.

Some Top Majors For Those Who Are Unsure Of What To Study.

In the event you are not sure of what to do after you graduate from college, you can choose a major in one of the following. They’ll be relevant and useful for you in some way

  1. Psychology: A major in Psychology is relevant to those fascinated by the human mind and behavior. It helps you develop critical thinking and interpersonal skills. This degree will be relevant in marketing, counseling, human resource generalists etc.
  2. Communications: As a broad field, it leaves opportunities for different career paths. The world is a global village and communication will always remain relevant. Career paths vary from market research analysts, digital marketers to press secretaries.
  3. Business / Entrepreneurship: Every organization needs personnel who are business-minded to survive. You can work almost anywhere since every company functions as a business. Or even start out your own company.
  4. Computer science: Technology is advancing, and almost every field of business uses technology. There is a rapid increase in the need for software developers, web developers, IT specialists etc. As long as the technology remains, a computer science degree remains relevant.

Whether you choose to follow your passion or seek out a high-paying job, it is important to know that according to research only 27% of college graduates work on a job relating to their degree major. 62% of jobs in total require a degree, but this research shows that less than half of them have to relate to the job role. Asides from specific jobs like engineering or medicine etc, that require a particular skill set- for most other jobs it doesn’t work that way. You don’t need to study  English to be a writer or political science to work with the government. What matters is your work ethic and attitude.

Since what I study doesn’t have to relate to my future job role; do I even need to go to college? Quite a number of billionaires didn’t even graduate college you might say! But according to Fortune 500 CEOs, 99% of them have a college degree. Going to college definitely increases your chance of being successful.

College is much more than what you study but also the general experience that expands your horizon. What matters when you are in college is that you maximize opportunities that can serve you in the future. For instance, take up internship roles or be an avid volunteer, get involved in college student organizations. Doing things you’re passionate about leaves a positive impact on your resume than what college major you graduated with. Forbes report says 93% of employers believe communication, problem-solving skills and critical thinking are more important than your field of study. 

In Conclusion, the choice is left to you alone. Whatever you decide to study, know that happiness is a good driver of success. It is best to choose what you have an interest in; it’s easier to put in the enthusiasm and effort required for success. Because job roles are changing, it will be good to consider the future of work and how your degree choice will be of any relevance in the next 10-20 years. Of course, for any degree you choose, you’ll need to constantly upgrade yourself as time passes but some degrees will lose relevance because of advancements in technology.

If you don’t know what you’re good at yet, take a personality test to guide you. Don’t be in a hurry and you can always talk to someone for help. Your High School Counselor can be of help or a private career coach.

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Amanda Hoyle
Amanda is a proficient and widely published educational leader, with Master's degrees in both Education and Psychology.
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