You’re ready, willing and able to start college, but you’re facing a quandary: choosing a career path. You’re not alone; according to Doug Hewitt, coauthor of “Free College: The Resource Book,” almost 30 percent of first year college students have no idea what major to claim. By narrowing your fields of interest, you’ll find it less complicated to choose a career path that will satisfy you.
Purchase a notebook to use as a journal during your hunt for a career. On the first page, make a list of things you excel in. Include hobbies and sports, jobs you’ve enjoyed, and natural talents. If you get stuck, ask a friend or relative to help you add to the list.
Consider occupations that match your interests. For example, if you love to garden, check out horticulture and landscaping. If you’re a math whiz, look at engineering and technical jobs. If you enjoy helping other people, look at medical and social worker fields. If you’re artistic, look at fields that correspond with your talents.
Talk to people in the fields you’re considering on your list. Ask them to tell you the three best and worst things about their jobs. Ask for any details you might be unsure of about the field. Ask them to recommend a source for further education in the career.
Expand your career search into specific jobs in each field. For example, if you’re leaning towards a health career, investigate doctors, nurses, physical therapists and mental health. If you’ve decided on criminal justice, look into the careers of police, corrections and law. Remember that you may find a career that spans two fields–such as being a probation officer, which combines sociology and criminal justice.
Research the salary range for the careers you’ve narrowed down. Consider whether you will be satisfied with the projected income; also consider the average work week you will be putting in.
Make a list of pros and cons for any remaining careers on your list, adding the list of things you’re good at wherever they may fit with a certain career. Add and cross off the information you’ve accumulated. For instance, you may have pinpointed photography as a major, but perhaps you realize you don’t care for young children. If that’s the case, you can eliminate “portrait photography” from your list.
Eliminate further the careers that no longer meet your specifications. For instance, if you’ve decided you want your degree in two years, being a doctor or teacher is out of the picture. Likewise, if you want a career in a high paying field, fields such as law and nursing will go to the top of your list. What remains will enable you choose the career path that will make you the happiest and enable you to declare a college major.