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Which degree should I get for College? Course that I really wanted wholeheartedly/dream or course that is practically enough to get more opportunities when I finish college?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Ro’s Answer

This is such an important questions because students often feel like they have to choose between their dreams or getting a job. The ideal answer would be of course to explore a course or major that aligns with both your dream AND provides opportunities. Ultimately, I fall on the side of following your dreams. Why? Because I've asked this question myself in college and chose to go to law school for the wrong reasons. I wanted to provide for my family and have the opportunity to get a good job. There is nothing wrong with that, however my original dream was to help people through education. I did enjoy being a lawyer, but my passion always lingered and I ultimately pursued my dream and became and educator and career services specialist for college and grad students. Good opportunities came and went, but my passion never died, it only got stronger.
I don't know what your dream is, but see if you can fulfill your dream through other non-traditional avenues and positions. I understand that students are worried about employment, but I can never tell a student to give up on their dream. If you have a calling, pursue it. If it's challenging, be creative. Fulfilling a life-long dream is never easy, but if you reach it- you'll feel something that many people with high paying jobs don't get to experience : true contentment and satisfaction.

Thank you so much! I’ll keep your advice in my mind until the end. Javy Y.

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Apurva’s Answer

I would say don't get a degree for something you think that will make you more marketable. Study something you have a deep curiousity for and something you are passionate about now .
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Tina’s Answer

This is a great question and I think something that many high school and college students struggle with. You certainly need to work in order to provide for yourself and earn an income, but wouldn't it be amazing if you could do that in a career you love?!? Now is the time to explore different areas that you are interested in. You have time to do that, and your interests may change. If you find your true passion you should stick with it, but ultimately it's a balance. It took me some time to determine my career path, and ultimately found my passion. I started in college as undeclared, then moved on to physical therapy and then dentistry. I liked the idea of those careers, but found I really struggled in chemistry and biology, so I took a major turn to communications/journalism. After taking a legal journalism course I decided to become a lawyer and went to law school. I loved law school and enjoy the profession and have been an attorney for 14 years now! Remember that no career is going to be perfect. There will be challenges that hopefully lead to successes, and you will learn from any failures, but if you enjoy what you do it makes it all worth while. I hope this is helpful to you.

Thank you so much! This is so inspiring, I hope I will find the right career for me by trying and taking risk. I guess I still have a long journey just like you, I will always remember your story ;) Javy Y.

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Jonathan’s Answer

Javy, this is an excellent question that most high school students have in mind and the fact that you are taking the time to seek advice shows that you are really prioritizing your future. When deciding on which degree to pursue, it is important to continue to do your research and get into a field that you are passionate about. Keep in mind though that you do have the ability to change your major should something else stand out to you.

For me personally, I have a Finance degree that helped me receive employment in the Financial Services industry. Eventually, I made a career change to the software industry. The point being, you will have many different options and will be able to choose your own path.

Jonathan recommends the following next steps:

Research the universities website to understand the curriculum required for graduation. You will understand which classes are necessary and view a description for each.
Research the professors that teach these courses. Not to see which are likely to get you a better grade, but those that truly educate their students.
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Mary’s Answer

Hi,

I agree with what most people say here...try to align your career path to something that you are really interested in. For me, since high school I wanted to become a professional accountant. The first time I heard the concept I was interested. It is only later that I knew that I made the right choice as being a professional accountant opened up great opportunities for me. There are various path you can follow as an accountant, you will not be limited to traditional career path of an accountant. I started my career as an auditor and join two of the Big 4 throughout my career but I am now doing something that is completely different. I strongly believe, being an accountant helped me developed all the other skills that I now have and helped me land to where I am today. I am now part of the leadership team of the training business of one of the Big 4 aspiring to become the COO in the near future.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Mary
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Jemima A.’s Answer

Javy, this question shows you are senstive and passionate.
Alot of helpful answers have given already. In addition, understand that while you wish to consider opportunities you also need to consider passion

Considering a degree that you are very passionate about can make you think towards creating opportunities for you and the society.

All the best in your career pursuit.
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Lira’s Answer

Hi

This is a really great question. I have the most supportive parents but we do not have the means and the financial capabilities at that time to take whatever I want to when I was about to enter college. I did take a course that somehow resonates with me and very dear to me as well, but I want you to understand that as a person who loves to enjoy work more than anything, take that course that you really are passionate about. You will be able to learn how to work with it and learn how to live with it.
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Steven’s Answer

Hi Javy,

Unfortunately there is no crystal ball that is going to tell you what the best career path is. College is a great way to define what really interests you and to explore things that you would have never thought of. It's good to have a plan in the first couple years of college, but it's perfectly okay to change that plan after discovering and refining what interests you. Be curious and seek advice on potential career paths!
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George’s Answer

If you want to be successful follow your heart and your passion. You can fill in with a few “practical” courses here and there but any degree will benefit.
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Seda’s Answer

Study something you will enjoy, college years are gonna be the best years of your life. Use the college time to learn, travel, expose yourself to different cultures, cuisines, continents, etc. Your career goals are gonna be more clear when you are happy and satisfied, not when you are miserable studying something you hate. Confidence, open mindedness and a desire to learn and grow will be what matters to find and land that dream job.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hi Javy! Reading through the answers, I see that many have given very solid advice. I'd like to provide a different perspective, just for you to consider as you make your decision (which, by the way, can you change later?). When I was in your shoes, I also thought about my course/career options as a choice between "passion" and "opportunity."

At university, I decided to study something that I was passionate about, knowing that I would have limited employment opportunities and would make a lower-middle-class income for the area where I lived. I had this career for 7 years, enjoyed some aspects of it, struggled with others, but was ultimately not really satisfied. When I made my choice, I underestimated 2 things: 1) how much I would value career advancement later in life, and 2) how much money I needed to make to truly feel secure. I switched careers through getting a graduate degree, and now have better opportunities in a career that I actually like much, much better.

If I could go back, I don't think I would change a thing. I would still pursue my passion, struggle early in my career, and use those experiences to discover what I was really meant to do in life. However, I wasn't asking myself all the questions I should have in making my decision on what to study. Here are some additional questions to consider as you make your choice that go beyond passion vs. opportunity (just in case you haven't already!):

- What does your "passion" choice say about who you are and what is important to you? How can you stay true to this as you make your decision?
- What kind of environment do you want to work in? Big company? Small? Flexible? Travel? Working with people? Working manually? Big responsibility? Low stress? Does one of your career choices fit better with your ideal environment than the other?
- Do you like consistency, or changing things up? Do you value job security, or are more open to taking risks?
- What does advancement look like in your career options? Is career advancement important to you? If so, do the "higher up" jobs in each career appeal to you?
- Where do you want to live? Do your career choices allow for flexibility in where you live? Are you likely to be asked to move frequently for either of these careers?
- What does work/life balance look like in each career? Will one job require many more hours than the other? How much do you want to work?
- How much money do you need to feel secure? (Actually estimate your required salary! Think ahead to incorporate your goals about family, further education, supporting your parents, etc.) How would it affect you if you made less than this amount?

You may not be sure about the answers to all these questions, and that's okay! Answering them may make you feel even more confused, and that's also okay! It's hard to anticipate the future and what you'll want 5, 10, or 20 years from now, but it can't hurt to spend some time thinking about these questions as you make your choice. Best of luck!
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Mona’s Answer

You can consider taking advantage of your first few semesters while you are completing your general ed courses to identify your areas of interest and passion. Use this as an exploratory time and think about the "why" and what motivates you. Try to research and network and hear from various students from different majors to understand their motivators for pursuing those majors. Extra-curricular activities will give you exposure to things that you may find you are drawn to.

Mona recommends the following next steps:

Create a diagram with three columns: 1. Passion areas 2. What you are good at (skilled areas) 3. Business demand 4. Constraints or roadblocks (financial, bandwidth, timelines, etc.) — the objective is to find areas that have as much intersecting commonalities across these 4 areas.
If available, take advantage of your college advisors and career services at your college
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Amir’s Answer

Try majoring in the practical course and minoring in the "dream" course. If you find yourself really drawn to the minor you have your answer.
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Simeon’s Answer

I would go with the more practical route. If you get a job to support yourself more steadily, you can use that stability to pursue your passions on your own time and in your own way. Pursuing your passions with a career is fine and dandy until your passions become your day job. I don't buy that a majority of people are supposed to be emotionally fulfilled by their work. Otherwise, pay wouldn't be offered in compensation for the work. Lastly, there is a well documented phenomena where enjoyment can be taken away by being compensated to do the thing, like with basketball players who lose their interest in basketball once it becomes about the fame and money.
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Danya’s Answer

Hi Chris,

As others have said, this is a common struggle for a lot of people. I personally don't think it has to be an either/or question. I do think when it comes to college, you have to evaluate the cost and benefits of each degree since college often comes with a big financial commitment.

What I will say though is that even if you do choose to study something that you think is less tangible or less directly related to a job, you can supplement it with extra curricular experience, or take a few more tangible classes (ex: finance, business, statistics) to supplement your choice. I personally studied a humanities subject but joined a wide range of clubs in college that related to various job opportunities.

I'd also recommend talking to people in your desired course of study to get their perspective, or look for folks on LinkedIn who studied the same thing and have informational interviews with them to ask them about what they do now and how their major ties to their job.

Best of luck!
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Marites’s Answer

Ask yourself first on what you wanted to do after you finish college, something that you are passionate about. If you can't think of any, I'd say do Accounting. All companies need Accountants:)
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Amela’s Answer

Javy,

This is something that I really struggled with when I was applying to colleges. I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, and wanted to get a degree that would give me many options. This is why I chose to be a business major during college. I knew that whatever field I went into, developing strong business skills would be important.

I'm currently a senior at Boston University about to graduate with a business degree concentrating in Marketing and Finance. I've loved my time at college and found the business program challenging yet rewarding. Also, the business program at BU is very interdisciplinary and during my time in college, I've been able to take several classes outside of my major. After graduation, I hope to pursue a marketing role at a company I am passionate about.

My best advice is to research the different programs at schools you are interested in and decide what is most important to you and what you are most excited to learn/ get out of your degree. Business is a great option if you are unsure about what you want to pursue after graduation. Ultimately, your major is not the end all be all, so try not to put so much pressure on yourself to decide right away. You can always change your major if you don't like it, or take some classes outside of your major. The more I networked and talked to young professionals, the more I realized how many people end up pursuing careers completely outside of their major.

Good luck!

I’m planning to take business-related degree as well. I feel like your comment pushing me to go for business major even if I’m 50/50 sure about it. Thank you so much! Javy Y.

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Wael’s Answer

Hey Javy. I think you're thinking about the right things at this time and it is an important focus to help grow.

I know at this time there are many opportunities and it can get overwhelming trying to decide which is the best. I think that ultimately a passion in a field or major will help you get something you will enjoy doing in the long run as I have seen people who have forced an interest in something more practical end up leaving.

I definitely would encourage you to check out the dream degree and see what you think about it. I initially started in one field area but once I graduated I wanted to try something new but still challenging. I took the time to learn outside of work and transitioned into software because at the time thats what I became passionate about. So I wouldn't worry as much about 'what if' and instead TRY. If it does not end up being what you thought of it, you can always try the secondary option or something new! We are always growing and become attracted to new things. It is natural. Hope that helps and best of luck!

Wael recommends the following next steps:

I would suggest taking a course in your dream major! Reflect on how it goes and what you see yourself enjoying/ not enjoying
Research cool fields in your dream major or look at youtube/ google/ linkedin for people doing what you do
Really check if what you do (in general) puts that smile on your face. You'll know when you have the right field!
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Saurabh’s Answer

Very relevant question which is faced by almost everybody who transitions from school to college. To be very frank here is the term more opportunity is an irony. More opportunity for whom ? Probably for those who are interested in that field. Otherwise, get ready to be kicked off anytime.

If you want a course whole heartedly then go for it. You can create opportunities there for yourself , you can innovate there, you can grow there. No doubt earning a good amount is important and practical too but at what cost ? The field in which you are interested even it pays less initially it comes with a lot of satisfaction and as you grow and innovate in that field you can even beat the market.

On the other hand if you make yourself marketable and take the course which gives more opportunities in general may not provide same opportunity for you as you are not interested and would not do your course seriously. Even if somehow you manage to enter the corporate, it will be very difficult for you to survive there without passion and eventually you will end up frustrated switching jobs and blaming your fate. On the other hand if you go for a course of your choice you can gradually make your expertise and will be exponentially improving. So, choose wisely
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