Whether you are just starting college or considering going back for additional education, the choice of what degree to pursue is an important one. There are a number of factors that should always go into your choice of a college degree, all with varying levels of importance depending on your situation and your preferences. This guide will go over some of the things you should consider so you can eventually make the ideal choice.
Where Does Your Passion Lie?
In many ways, this is the most important question you should ask yourself when deciding what degree to get. You should never get a college degree simply based on what field is hiring at that point in time. Hiring trends change over time, but a career you are passionate about will last a lifetime. Discovering your true passion can be tricky, which is why it is often advisable to spend the first year or so of college taking classes in a number of different subjects to see what truly interests you. Passion is also something you develop over time, and it starts with an interest. So select and nurture an interest if you do not already have a passion. Many colleges actually discourage students from declaring their majors early so they have some time to decide whether or not their initial choice is the degree they truly want to pursue.
How Healthy Is The Occupation?
If like most students, you are pursuing a degree with the end goal of obtaining a job with it, it is important to consider the general health of the occupation. Some fields, such as the tech sector, are growing tremendously and show no signs of slowing down. Others, like travel agents, are in decline. If a job is largely going away, that does not mean you should not pursue it, but it is knowledge you should have nonetheless so you can make an informed decision.
How Well Does It Pay?
While not the end-all, money should be a factor in what degree you choose. Can you stand to work in a career that you may have more passion for, such as being an artist, but with the knowledge that you will have a lower salary? Or does the lifestyle you want to lead lend itself more to a higher salary, such as a physician? Go into a degree with a realistic picture of how much your starting and lifetime salary are likely to be. This is even more important if you are going to be taking out loans and going into debt for the degree - you want a realistic picture of how well and fast you will be able to pay that debt back.
What About Graduate School?
If you are even considering graduate school, that should also be a factor in what you decide to study for your undergraduate degree. You will likely have to choose your undergraduate degree earlier if you want to go into certain grad school programs, like medicine. Grad school admissions also like to see varied interests in their applicants for some programs. For example, if your goal is to eventually obtain an MBA, you can consider an undergraduate degree in business, but you can also consider other degrees that are related but will give you a more varied background. For example, a computer science degree will give you an edge in important computer skills that are needed in business school and in the larger business world.
Finally, don't be afraid to change your mind. It is often better to go another semester or so than to be stuck with a degree that no longer aligns with your career goals. It is not uncommon for students to change their majors once or even more than once - oftentimes, it is even expected. Even if you graduate and decide you want to do something else, you can always go back to school. So while your choice of degree is important, it is certainly not irreversible.
Choosing a college degree may be easy for some but a real challenge for others. Because it is a big decision, it is one you should make carefully. Make a list of pros and cons for each of your options if you have to, and carefully weigh your options before making a final decision. Ultimately review the facts and go with your gut. Logic and instinct together are a winning combination.