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Many of today’s high school graduates face a serious conundrum. All their lives, they’ve been told that going to college is the best way to be sure that they’ll be able to secure employment when they enter the workforce.

Unfortunately, a college degree is no longer a guaranteed way to get a great job and many future college students are wondering how to choose the perfect college degree program to ensure that they’re able to make the best career move.

1. Think Through Your College Choice

There are plenty of things that might attract you to a great college. It’s great major offerings, fascinating classes, and an array of extracurricular activities are all great selling points. Before you choose a college, however, you should think through all of the factors that will impact your educational success.

  • Where is the school located? You’ll want to be able to get home easily and inexpensively. Some students may prefer to be in closer proximity to home than others.
  • Is the school in the middle of a city, where there’s a lot going on–including plenty of disruptive noises at all hours of the night? Is it located far outside a city, where you’ll have a long trip every time you need groceries? There are advantages and disadvantages to each choice, and you should think them through carefully.
  • How does the cost of tuition measure up? How will you be paying for your degree? You don’t want to end up in debt for years after graduation.
  • What is the school’s atmosphere like? Are you looking for a highly focused academic institution or a school where social activities are more common?

Ideally, you should choose a school based on your specific needs, not on the school’s reputation alone. The school that works best for someone else might not necessarily be the one that works best for you.

2. Choosing a Job Path

You want to choose a major that will allow you to best career moves once you graduate. Ideally, you want to choose your

future field, then select a major that goes with it. Some popular college majors include nursing, business administration and management, teacher education, criminal justice and corrections, information technology, and accounting. In America, history and English remain popular in major fields.

Selecting a college major starts with knowing what your interests are. You don’t have to choose a job that you love–sometimes, following your passion can lead to a job field that’s difficult to break into or that might not offer you the kinds of opportunities that you need–but you should select a path that you’ll enjoy. These steps might help:

  • Take the aptitude tests offered by your high school. They’ll offer you a starting place if you don’t know what you’re interested in.
  • Explore job options out in the world, not just the ones mentioned while you’re in high school. Do research on careers that take advantage of the things you’re good at and the things you’re interested in.
  • Take a look at your preferences for jobs. Do you want a flexible schedule or a daily nine-to-five option? Do you want a specific salary range? Think through what you would like your life to look like after school.

3. Your Job and Your Major

America’s workforce is currently over-educated. Many people have found that college isn’t the right long-term choice for them after spending a semester or two taking classes. Others go through college, but ultimately struggle to find a job in their current career field. Before enrolling in a college or university, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my job actually require a college degree? What type of degree is most common?
  • How will these classes help shape my future job goals and opportunities?
  • Does a job in the field I want to lean more heavily toward a college degree or toward specific certifications that show my expertise?

While time spent in college is rarely wasted, it may not be the best use of your time and money if you intend to enter a field where a college degree is unnecessary or certifications are preferred to a degree.

Taking the time to think through your options before you start college is a great way to be sure that you make the most of those years.

By carefully researching the job opportunities that are best for you, you’ll be more likely to be able to set yourself on the right path. You’ll take the college classes that are most effective for you, enjoy your four years in school, make the best career move, and find yourself in a great position to pursue your future career.

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