Going to school is a big life decision, like choosing your spouse or deciding whether to have children. The choice you make could shape your future for years to come.
Not everyone treats this decision so seriously. The media have convinced many people that a college degree is little more than a ticket to a good job. Some students attend college only because they feel it’s expected of them. Even worse, some people rush to enroll in the first college they find, with little thought for their values, or the kind of life they’d like to live.
The big question to ask is, “Who am I?” No one can answer it for you, and you won’t uncover it in a blog. This article is meant to start you thinking, so that you can choose the university and degree that match your goals. If you’re willing to think deeply about your purpose and what you really want out of life, then read on.
Start with Your Passion
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Put aside what you think you “should” do or where the jobs are. Not everyone needs to go to business school. In fact, you might not need a college degree to do what you love.
Think about what moves you and the things that fascinate you. The hobbies you do for fun are a good indicator of who you are. Baking, surfing, restoring old cars – if you love to do it, no matter whether anyone pays you for it, chances are that’s your passion.
Perhaps a college degree would empower you to pursue your passion. But keep in mind that not all schools offer the same programs. For example, if your dream is to perform on stage, then seek out schools with programs for the performing arts.
If you keep yourself organized, then your extracurricular activities shouldn’t have to interfere with your studies. In fact, some universities might award you credit for the time you spend on, or the knowledge you have about, a hobby or volunteer work.
Write Down Your Goals
Imagine how your life will look four to five years from now. What do you see yourself doing? What particular skills have you always wanted to learn? Is there a cause that you feel very strongly about? How you answer these questions should determine which university you choose.
Whom Do You Admire?
Write down the names of some people who are already successful and well known in the field you want to enter. Where did they go to school? Are any of them teaching now? You could follow in their footsteps. You could even enroll at the school where your hero teaches, or ask that person to be your mentor.
Remember, no college degree, no matter how prestigious, can ever guarantee a job or career. So don’t pin all your hopes on a piece of paper. Instead, create personal goals for yourself – beyond the career ladder – and let your education support you every step of the way.