Unsure of My College Education

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am about to graduate from high school and I am still undecided about what I am going to do with my life. I have looked and looked for things that I could possibly pursue a career in, but I haven’t really found anything of interest, or if I have, I am scared that I will not succeed in it, or will do badly in that class. If you could just give me some advice and maybe some ideas of what I could study in, I’m sure any help would be good. I will tell you a little about myself:

I wanted to be a teacher for the longest time, however they do not make much money at all. I was also considering being an Optometrist, but I don’t think that I want to go to school for 8 years, plus, that is a lot of debt that I don’t want to get myself in to. Also, I am more interested in Math than I am Biology. I am good at most all subjects of Math, except Geometry.

I was thinking about becoming a financial advisor, but I know I will have to take accounting classes, which are really hard. I was also considering majoring in Business, but I know if I run a business and it fails, my degree is pretty much a waste because I can’t run a successful business. I like helping people, so my mom said maybe become a social worker, but I would get attached to people and be torn if something happened to them. I am the same way with animals, therefore I could not be a veterinarian. I don’t mind working in an office.

I know that I am running out of time to figure it out. And I know that I do want to attend college, I just don’t know what I want to do. I know that nobody can tell me what to do with my life and ultimately, it will be my decision. I would just like some suggestions maybe

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A: I think this is such a wonderful question to ask! Please try to look at your college experience as an opportunity to experiment — not something you have control or know exactly what to. About 70 percent of freshmen change their major by the time they are juniors. Just begin with the idea that you want to do something you like. Take the courses and see if you still like it. I was a mediocre student in most areas until I found how much I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about psychology. I never thought I would want to go to school and get a PhD, but it was interesting, I loved the material, and I was good at it. I liked creative writing, but also never thought about making a living as a writer. I certainly never thought I would want to get an MFA in writing after a PhD. If someone told me as a freshman I would ultimately have a career as a psychologist and a writer I would never have believed him or her. As a freshman the thing I thought I wanted to do most was become a physical education instructor. By the way, my parents had some other plans for me to become a plumber, if you would care to read about how well that went you can check it out here.

I offer my personal story only because I know it is not unique. If you ask 10 people how they ended up in their careers you would find that the majority ended up doing something different than they originally thought. The idea is to start out doing what you believe will let you thrive and take it from there.

There is good research to show that we regularly change our careers throughout life, or enhance them, or reconfigure the way we do them. Think of college as training you how to learn rather than just one thing you will do forever.

I would strongly encourage you to learn about your strengths. Dr. Ryan Niemiec is the columnist here on Psych Central for signature strengths. Check out his blog and take the survey to notice your strengths. This can be a great way to learn what you like to do, and how to flourish.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Unsure of My College Education. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/14/unsure-of-my-college-education/