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Choosing a career path is one of the most important decisions that students face today. Lack of planning can force students into a five or six-year college degree. Students who do not plan their career path may end up receiving degrees in declining-growth fields, or fields with a surplus of applicants, resulting in their inability to find employment after graduation. A wise choice can lead to a rewarding occupational experience and the security of an adequate income.

The difficulty in choosing a career is that it often requires making a considerable commitment in education and training to prepare for that career, prior to working in the field.

Millions of students have paid for four years of college, only to find that their career choice was a mistake. However, having made the investment in time and money, they feel obligated to continue.

Some students decide to change their major or career interest after one or two years of college. Since many of their college credits cannot be applied to their new major, they must then spend five or six years to achieve a four-year degree.

Given today’s high college cost environment, students cannot get too much information, or spend too much time researching and planning to prepare for their career field. Students should consider discussing their prospective interests with their high school guidance counselor.

They should also read business publications or trade and professional journals associated with their career interest to learn about the latest news and trends within that field or industry. They should look for indications as to whether the field is expanding, or experiencing a decline.

Asking the Right Questions About Your Potential Career Interest

An excellent way to learn more about an occupation is to talk with various people in that field of interest. You can secure interviews with experienced professionals by calling them, introducing yourself, and then explaining that you wish to seek a first hand opinion of the benefits of their job or profession. Many professionals would welcome a student’s interest in their field. Here is a list of suggested questions to ask these professionals:

  • How long have you been in this field?
  • Why did you decide to work in this field?
  • How did you get your first job in this field?
  • How has this field changed since your first job?
  • Do you know what the future outlook is for this field?
  • How competitive is this field?
  • What do you like about your occupation?
  • What do you dislike about your occupation?
  • What are your primary duties during a typical day?
  • What kinds of education or training are required in this occupation?
  • What are the entry-level salary and benefits in this occupation?
  • What are the expected salary and benefits in this occupation after ten years?
  • What are the chances for advancement in this occupation?
  • What additional training or education is needed for advancement?
  • Where else can I look for information pertaining to this occupation?

Armed with answers to the above questions and with solid research and planning, students can make a wise choice in their career direction. Before you begin look at colleges this fall, it’s critical that you take a serious look at your choice of career/major first. A good “Career Plan” could save you thousands of dollars in time and money! We can help you with this process. Give us a call.

The author of this newsletter is Brock Jolly.

If you have any questions about the information contained in this newsletter, or any questions about college funding in general, please contact our office.

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