Choosing what to study in college is probably the most difficult and fundamental decisions people have to make in life. Many people tend to casually make the choice of what to study but fail to realize that a job is where they will spend a great deal of their time. If you are older and have already made the wrong choice of what to study in college – don’t despair; there is always the possibility of going back to your studies even if it is part time. Here’s how to decide what to study in college:
Step in the shoes of those who are already where you want to be
Hearing about what your dream job is like from people already doing it – can greatly assist in how to decide what to study in college. Ask knowledgeable people these questions:
- What is a typical day like?
- Is the job routine or ever changing?
- What skills (technical and soft skills) do you need to possess to excel in your career?
- Are the working hours normal?
- What is the work environment typically like?
It can also help to ask about the negatives aspects of the job. You will be surprised how some negative aspects can be a complete put off. These include relocating, working in deserted locations, long working hours etc. You need to ensure that what you decide to study puts you in a career that aligns with your values and future plans.
Realize the difference between practice and theory
It is very easy to fall into the hype of a profession. Watching just one glamorous movie,for example, can change a young person’s mind to follow a particular profession (specific reference to movies like Iron Man). Many of these movies tend to be unrealistic interpretations of the real world and even if they do represent some degree of truth; they are usually representative of a smaller audience. Therefore how to decide what to study in college should rather be based on other factors as part of a well thought of decision.
You need to be cognizant of the parallels between practice and theory. The greatest chance you have of practicing most of what you learn is in a research setting – so be wary of what to expect when pursuing a specific study choice in college.
Play on your strengths and passions
To stand out in your profession you need to make the conscious decision to study something that you are good and which you are passionate about. Fortunately, most of the time we love what we are good at; however there are times when we are good at something but hating doing it; there may also be times where you think you like something but suck at it – in this case the best option is to link your passion with your skills. For e.g. you may find data science a fascinating field but programming is a nightmare for you – in this case maybe you can channel that interest of data science in a less technical role such as blogging or analysis.
Google is your best friend
For when you can’t find all the information you are looking for from direct interaction with people – just turn to your trusted friend google. You can find anything you are looking for such as:
- Job salaries
- Study options
- Career pathways for what you study
- Career growth plans
- Advice about careers – just be sure not to let the opinions of others completely sway you from doing what you love. Be open minded but form your own perspective. There is no one that knows you better than you.
Ask teachers and counselors for advice
Teacher and counselors are excellent options for getting an unbiased view of what you are good at; they see you grow up and can easily see what you excel in. Don’t hesitate to go to them for advice for how to decide what to study in college.
Use your vacations productively
The best method for how to decide what to study in college is to actually experience a day on the job yourself. Volunteer to do work in companies for the careers you wish to pursue. Even if it means job shadowing getting a feel for what a day in the life of “insert your dream career here” is likely to be. This will prepare you for what to expect and also reaffirm what you are headed for while you study – this motivation can get you through some difficult academic challenges.
Ask yourself these questions
- If I had to do something if money wasn’t an issue what would it be?
- What can I do so that I never feel like I am working?
- What do I love reading and learning about even if I don’t have to?
- Which subjects do I love and excel in?
- What type of work environment would I excel in?
There are many more that can spur positive thinking for how to decide what to study in college.