Before I started this blog I was an academic adviser who also taught a one-credit course called “Choosing a Major.” I showed students how to choose a college major based on their interests, skills and abilities. Students did a lot of survey type questions and workbook exercises to help them learn more about themselves.
What I didn’t do was focus on career trends. It seems like every week there is an article about the best- and worst-paid jobs or an article talking about the hot new careers. While that information is interesting, it shouldn’t be the sole guide of your college planning. We should stop picking college majors based on career trends and salaries.
I can already hear some of you protesting. After all, college degrees are extremely expensive. Picking a hot job with a big salary is a great way to pay for that education. It’s hard to argue with that.
But you have to know this: Today’s trends and hot jobs may not be here tomorrow. (Remember telephone operators?) And then what? You’ll still have a boatload of student debt and no job to pay for it.
Instead, choose a college major based on the skills you will earn. Choose a major that teaches you the skills of critical and creative thinking. Choose a major that gives you the skills to adapt to whatever changes come. Choose a major based on your passions and abilities.
College is an investment in your future. Not the future that is just one or two years from now. The future that is 5 to 10 to 20 years from now. That college degree is your ticket to the middle class, and it forms the basis for a lifetime of decision-making.
Instead of focusing on the money you can earn, focus on the connections you can make. Instead of focusing on where the jobs are, focus on making yourself the best candidate for your dream job.
I’ve seen far too many students focused on the job they want at the end of college. That’s a recipe for hardship down the road. The focus should be on the life you want after college. Stop picking college majors based on career trends and start picking them based on the kind of person you want to be.
It will be the best money you’ll ever spend.