May is such a busy and exciting time of year! Students are graduating and celebrating a major life milestone: finishing high school! While busy with all the ceremonies, senior trips, parties, and good-byes, it can feel like university is a long way away. It isn’t.
Sooner Than You Think
While working at Louisiana State University, I noticed many freshmen had only a vague idea of what they might want to do with their lives. The college years are a time to explore and find yourself, right? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Well, yes and no.
While it is true that the college years are a time of tremendous growth-and even fun, four years will fly by! At the end of that time, you will be expected to stand on your own two feet, prepared for either further schooling or the adult world. The time to start narrowing what you want to do with your life from the hundreds of options is NOW!
What Am I Doing the Rest of My Life?
Deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life is one of the most important decisions you will ever make! Your career choice will affect you every day for the next 40-50 years. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to give it some thought?
While counseling students at LSU, it wasn’t uncommon for college SENIORS to come to me in tears, saying, “I HATE what I am majoring in! I don’t know why I chose this, but it’s TOO LATE NOW!” Don’t be that person!
While university can be a lot of fun, it is a HUGE investment of time and money and emotional energy. And I’m talking about YOU, not just your parents!
Breaking It Down
Choosing an academic major can be overwhelming! There are so many options. Thankfully it is a task that can be managed by taking it in small parts. To make a decision with confidence, there are essentially five areas that need to be addressed: interests, values, personality, abilities, and resources.
Interests: People tend to do well at what really interests them. What do you enjoy? What are your hobbies? What do you choose to do when no one is placing demands on you? Career counselors often use the Strong Interest Inventory to determine your interests and then use this as away of matching your interests to career options.
Values: What matters to you? If you had all the time and money in the world, how would you spend it? Is financial stability important to you? Do you want a family of your own some day? Are you hungry for adventure? Do you aspire to helping others or changing the world in some way?
You don’t want to feel BLAH about what you do every day, do you? Passion is what gives us energy to endure the rough places and makes the work we do feel less like a chore and more like a calling.
Personality: There are sixteen psychological types. Discovering which one you are can open a world of insight into why you do the things you do and think the way you think. Understanding your personality type can also help you decide which careers and academic majors are a good fit.
Career counselors have a variety of ways to determine your personality type but the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory or the Type Focus are two common inventories given to determine this.
Abilities: What are you good at? In which subjects have you excelled? An easy way to figure this out is to look at your report card, or your ACT or SAT. It is also helpful to ask for feedback from people who know you well such as friends, teachers, employers, and parents.
Some skills are not “gradable”. For example, are you known for motivating and influencing people? Maybe that’s why you were voted class president? Do your parents frequently rely on you to assemble new purchases because the instructions look like Greek to them? Do you have a knack for organizing and decorating? Is that why you were asked to serve on the homecoming dance committee?
Asking these questions will give you insight into your abilities. Some people find it useful to go further and take formal tests to determine specific areas of skill or abilities.
Resources: Begin with the end in mind. Where do I want to be in 5-10 years? And how much time and money am I willing to devote to that goal? Some careers require a time commitment of more than a decade beyond high school. Are you willing to put in the time? If you are hoping for a career that requires graduate school but lack financial resources, now is the time to talk to your parents and financial advisors to explore different options.
The Time Is Now!
I cannot say it strongly enough: the time is now! If you were going to buy a bike or a car or a new stereo, you would research it, right? And those are things that will only affect your life for a few years. Your decision about a career, and therefore what to major in, will affect you for decades to come. Give it some thought! Save yourself time and stress by calling me to make an appointment to discuss what YOU want to do for the rest of YOUR life. You’ll be glad you did!
Suzanne Jones, LPC, NCC -I have worked with many high school and college students, both at Louisiana State University and Crossroads. I’ve have seen first-hand what a difference career counseling can make!
You may contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org (225) 278-3541
Or look for other articles and resources @ www.crossroadcounselor.com