The 19th century British novelist Oscar Wilde once said, “I am not young enough to know everything.” That’s how many of us may view the confidence of a college-bound 18 year old, so sure that she or he is off to study to be a doctor or a lawyer or even a NASA astronaut. But for many people – you, perhaps – life has happened. Life, in this case, being the demands of a job you want to advance beyond, family schedules you must balance, and all of the other expectations others placed upon you. You are ready to start (or finish) your college degree, but not quite sure what that means in terms of choosing a major. So, what do you do? Well, choosing the major or field of study that is right for you is an important decision, but the fear of making the “wrong” decision need not paralyze you. There are three general principles that anyone can use to evaluate his or her options.
1. Learn From Your Past
Sounds easy, right? Or maybe it sounds scary…But before this turns into a therapy session, an explanation: this is not to suggest that because your father/mother/uncle/cousin was a [pick your profession], you should follow in the family footsteps. That’s more than likely wrong thinking for any number of reasons.
What “learning from your past” means is taking time to think about what has always interested you, what you’ve enjoyed doing – either as a paid profession, as a volunteer, or in your free time – and what about it that you enjoyed. The converse may also be a helpful guide: think about what you have not enjoyed doing, particularly in previous jobs, and why you have not enjoyed it. Taken together, you can start to think about your options for college majors, to what professions they may lead, and if that is a future you find appealing.
Speaking of the future, the second principle to keep in mind is…
2. Think About Your Future
You can’t predict the future, but you can think about your preferences, what you want your future to look like. Again, some explanation is necessary here.
Let’s say you can’t stand being trapped in an office environment Monday through Friday, from 9am to 5pm, week in and week out well. You prefer a flexible schedule, “being your own boss,” and are motivated by the opportunity to do new things. Well, then you had better keep that in mind as you choose a major that is likely to lead to certain careers. For instance, if you study something such as Accounting or Finance, it more than likely leads to a working environment similar to what is described above. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as many jobs in that field are steady, provide good pay and benefits, and a predictable schedule. Each person has different professional and personal priorities. You should be mindful of how those things intersect, can sometimes be in conflict, and must therefore be prioritized.
Again, there’s no predicting what opportunities you may have presented to you during the course of your professional life. There is also nothing that says just because you choose [X] major that you only have [Y] career options. You should, however, make choices based on reasonable assumptions, using good information from your own research. As part of that process you should seek input and guidance from career counselors and other people you trust.
Alright, you’ve looked back on the Past, and ahead to the Future. What’s left?
3. Pay Attention to the Present
Sacrificing in the short-term in order to get long-term benefit is almost always a good idea. It’s called maturity. You work hard now, so that you can reap some future reward. That’s kind of what college is all about, right? You spend a few years in preparation in order to have access to good paying jobs for the rest of your life. (In theory that is how it is supposed to work!)
What if the short-term “pain” is really an indication that you are going in the wrong professional direction? What if your lack of interest in a particular subject, or the fact that you just don’t “get” a certain concept, is not merely evidence that you need work harder and get some extra help? It may be an indication that you should be pursuing a different field of study. That’s why it is so important to Pay Attention to the Present. You may have decided – or been told, even by someone whose advice you trust – that you should pursue a degree in a particular field because it is popular, or will lead to a high-paying job. If you simply are not interested in the work involved, it may be time for a change of direction. A small change now could save you from quite a bit more professional misery in the future.
One final thing to consider: for a four-year degree, courses within your major will likely comprise one-third to one-half of all of your classes. That’s a lot of time to love what you’re learning, or to just get by with the hope that it will get better once you start working in that field. (Hint: if you don’t like it now, it is unlikely to change just because you’re getting paid to do it.) Hopefully you find these principles helpful when thinking about which major to choose. If you have already started classes, and feel like you want some more time before deciding on a major, here is an idea: take classes in the General Studies major. These are well-rounded classes across several academic disciplines. Not only will they expose you to ideas and interests you may not have considered previously, more than likely the classes can be counted as “elective” credits toward your degree once you decide on a major.
The General Studies Degree at Point University
The General Studies degree track at Point University (also known as ‘general education degree’) allows working adults to develop critical thinking abilities, communication skills and the Christian values necessary to become effective servant leaders, both in ministry and in the workplace. The Associate Degree in General Studies helps prepare students to move on to advanced studies in a bachelor of science degree program. It is also an appropriate option for those planning to transfer to another institution to complete a higher degree in a discipline not offered at Point University. Point University’s Hybrid program offers the Associate Degree in General Studies at six convenient locations as well as online.
If this sounds like a good option for you, please check out our online general studies program. Or, to receive more information, fill out the form above and a Point University representative will contact you.
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