Going to College costs a lot of money, and the average student’s tendency to change their major at least once during the course of their college careers only mires them even more deeply in student loan debt by the time they make it out. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to college, but it does mean that it’s smart to avoid staying extra semesters and racking up more debt just because you couldn’t figure out what you wanted in your first two. While many college advisors will recommend that you start out undeclared, they won’t warn you that many of the more valuable degrees require a fairly strict schedule of classes that come in strings of prerequisites, potentially taking an entire eight semesters work through. Because of this it’s a always better to come prepared with a plan right out of the gate. Here are a few things to think about before you start your higher education.
The most important, and ignored, question that you need to ask yourself is “how am I going to afford to live?”. This is the question that prompts more changed majors than any other issue. It’s important to consider how much an average person with the degree that you’re pursuing makes, and whether you’ll be able to find a job at all once you have it. Think about your hopes and dreams; do you want to live in a big house, travel, take long vacations? Secondary education teachers make 30-50 thousand dollars usually, which is fairly modest, but benefit from long vacations in the summer (not as long as you might think though). On the other hand tech salaries are regularly twice as large as that, meaning you can afford to live very comfortably, but typically don’t allow for as much off time.
Think about the job that your college major leads to. If you don’t like talking to other people all day then a lot of business related degrees like marketing or communication might not be for you. Conversely a particularly extroverted individual wouldn’t enjoy accounting or most of the sciences because that involves hiding away doing analyses for much of the day.
While those are fairly obvious examples, many jobs are very different than they appear at first glance. To deal with this you should find blogs about the fields that you’re interested in and engage in open dialogue with people who are actually doing those jobs. While much of the internet isn’t a hospitable place most people are happy to talk about their work and will gladly tell you everything you’d like to know.
Are you someone who thinks that your hometown is the best place on earth, or are you gripped with thirst for adventure and the need to see the world? Some jobs lend themselves well to travel (or might even require it), while others demand that you stay in the same place all the time. If you want to travel all over the world, for example, a law degree isn’t helpful because US law doesn’t apply outside the US. If, on the other hand, you study physics, you’ll be able to live and work in any industrialized nation. If you want to limit yourself even less than that you can study linguistics, English, or a foreign language and become a teacher abroad.
Knowing what you want to do immediately after college can be immensely helpful in deciding how you want to spend your time at school, so take your time, plan thoroughly, and move decisively.
About the Author
Reyna Ramli is a writer for CareerBliss, an online community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Reyna is not writing, she scours fashion magazines and blogs to satisfy her craving for fashion tips and trends, or takes random pictures with her iPhone for her Instagram obsession. Follow Reyna on Twitter!