So I'm writing about that topic first. What do you want out of a career?
Some of you may already know. You might want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, actor, musician, teacher, scientist, or athlete. You're picking up skills now. You understand how many years it will take to get the credentials you need. This post is not for you.
I'm talking to those of you who have no idea what you want to do after college. Like me when I was your age. Which means you probably don't know what you want to major in. I didn't.
It's okay. Most college freshmen are just like you. It's estimated that half of first-year students have an undecided major. And once you've made up your mind, it probably won't stick. 75% of college students change their major at least once and as many as half will change it 3 times.
I didn't know what I wanted to do. My favorite subjects were math and history. There weren't a lot of jobs that combined those two. When the US Air Force offered to pay my way through college if I majored in Computer Science, I was fine with that. So, yeah, the military picked my career. Fortunately, I've liked it.
Here are a few questions to consider when thinking about your future and the education you'll need to get there.
- What are your interests, hobbies, and talents? Would you want to do any of them as a job, or are you okay with doing them after hours?
- Do you want to love your career? Is liking a job enough?
- Is the salary important to you? Is money more important than the work?
- I liked to read, and I didn't see how that interest could turn into a job. But I was okay with reading for pleasure at night.
- I didn't have a particular need to love my job. Liking it was fine.
- Salary was very important to me. I wanted to afford the kind of life style where I could buy lots of book to read at night and eat out all of the time. Finding a job that paid well was definitely a higher priority than being passionate about my daily work.
Bottom line: Don't worry if you're not sure what you want to do or where you want to go. You can postpone these decisions for a little while longer and still recover.
If you're already sure about your career or vocation, great. You might know exactly what kind of high school courses will get you into the college that will launch your career.
If you don't know, that's fine too. You have time to figure it out. But start thinking about what's important to you and what you enjoy. It will help you plan for the college(s) you want to attend and the high school courses you should take to be admitted.
By the way, my story has a happy ending. I got both a career that I enjoy (in software development) and a job that pays well. I've found a second career (writing) that I love even more. And it all started by being honest about what would make me happiest.
Other posts in this series: