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A Career Worth the Cost: Advice for Recent Graduates

| June 14, 2019
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One of the hardest decisions a young person can make is deciding what career path to take. For some, it seems very easy. This lucky group has known exactly what occupation they wanted to pursue since they were nine years old. Unfortunately for most people, it is not that simple. After completing their education, many people also discover that their chosen career is not what they had envisioned.

I can relate to this. Coming out of high school, I was very unsure of exactly what I wanted to do. I thought that I wanted to be a career military man like several members of my family. I decided that I would try a four-year enlistment in the United States Army in a technical profession. My logic at the time was that even if I don’t enjoy military life, I could transition into an engineering profession after.

It turns out that I did like military life, but that I also have a bad back. The two do not go hand-in-hand. After my four-year enlistment ended, I decided to pursue an engineering degree. When I began my studies, I found out my chosen engineering branch was not for me. However, I did discover that I love math and found finance fascinating. Thankfully I discovered this while I was enrolled in my local community college. Switching to a different program did not cost a large sum of money for tuition. 

My advice to young graduating high school and college students in the early stages of their education (for our clients, share this with your grandchildren or children) is this: do not feel like you have to decide exactly what you want for your life immediately when it comes to a vocation. There is quite a bit of pressure on young adults to do exactly that when they are going through applying to colleges and universities. 

College is an extremely expensive period in your life, and you should make the best use of this (rising) cost. If you are unsure what path in life to take, I suggest trying different types of classes at your local community college. If you decide to go straight to a four-year school, during your first year try a selection of classes to make sure you are majoring in a field you will thoroughly enjoy.

It is an excellent idea to interview people that actually work in this field you will be pursuing through studies:

  • Ask them what their day-to-day is like in their profession.
  • Find out how difficult it was for them to get their foot in the door.
  • Ask if they are happy and satisfied with their career, and what different choices they would make if they could do it over again.

Also, do not forget to research what the entry level salaries are for your chosen profession, as well as the level of education required. You should strongly consider if the cost of college is worth what you are expected to earn. For example, would it make sense to achieve a doctorate in Art History if you plan on teaching high school? As enjoyable as college can be, the answer is probably not. Do not pursue a field and career unless you are 100% positive that it is something you will want to do each day for most of your life.

You should strongly consider the total cost of education, versus what you expect to earn. Do not be afraid to try different fields of study, even if only to confirm your chosen major. This said it is better to try out different curriculums at a community college due to the lower cost of tuition. College is a very expensive proposition, so make the most of your education, and be sure to pick a career you will love.  

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