Choosing the Right Degree: When it Matters and When it Doesn’t Reply

Confusion , Direction , ArrowPicking the right degree in college can be a difficult decision. After you graduate, you will want to be happy with your decision and be able to get a job in a career field that you enjoy. However, you don’t necessarily have to make the decision right away. Most colleges will want you to declare your major by the end of your second year, so you’ve got some time to explore your options.

Take an aptitude test.

Every college will have an advisor’s office, and I would be surprised to hear if everyone didn’t offer some kind of aptitude test to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take multiple aptitude tests at your school as well as online to narrow down your choices.

These tests are great for figuring out what careers are right for you right now, but also keep in mind that college is a place to learn and improve all of your skills. So even if the aptitude test doesn’t coincide with what you actually want to do, they are still helpful in giving you suggestions and ideas for determining your future.

Don’t worry about it right away.

Being undecided or undeclared for the first couple of years in college is OK. Not everyone should or does know what they want to do their first years in school. The majority of your first two years in college will be spent on general requirements and prerequisites for your upper division classes anyway. While you want to take the right prerequisites, plan on taking classes that help you explore opportunities and will also steer you in the right direction.

Research career paths.

Career paths are just that: a path towards a career. These paths aren’t exact and you will be able to take multiple roads to get you where you want to be. The majority of students will end up changing their major throughout their first couple of years, and quite a lot of graduates will end up working in jobs that aren’t directly related to their major.

When you are researching career paths, keep this in mind. In other words, research online and talk with people who work in that field and see what they majored in and how they got to be where they are. For entrepreneurs especially, the path to their success will come from a plethora of different backgrounds. LinkedIn is a great place to start – look at professional’s profiles and see where their academic and work experience has taken them.

Talk with your mentors, parents, and teachers.

Your family, mentors, teachers, and school counselors will know a lot about you and have a lot of knowledge about the world. Reaching out to these folk will help give you ideas about what degree is the best for you. Ask them about their past experiences and tell them to be honest about their advice. You’ll learn more than you think when you listen to their nuggets of truth.

Considering graduate school or an advanced degree?

The one time when you will want to have a definite idea of what you want to major in is if you plan on going into a specified career. For example, if you want to go to medical school you will have to major in a small number of specific degrees to have the knowledge and prerequisites to pass the MCATs and get into a medical school.

There are certain advanced degrees that don’t absolutely require a degree in the same field to get into, though. An MBA for example will typically take any bachelor degree graduate as long as they pass the required entrance exams and show an aptitude to succeed in their program through the admissions essay and qualified experience.

Keep an open mind.

More than anything keep an open mind as you never know what kinds of opportunities will present themselves and what you might be interested in. Take classes that help you both explore your interests and things you don’t know are your interests yet. Never been in a school play but always wanted to? Take an acting class as one of your liberal arts requirements and see what you think. College isn’t only about preparing for a career, it’s also about experiencing things you never have before.

4 Surprising Degrees That Can Launch Your Career into Upper Management Reply

4-surprising-degrees-that-can-launch-your-career-into-upper-managementSo you are eyeing a career in upper management. You want to be the boss, call the shots, and lead a company to success. While a business degree might be a more straightforward option, there are a number of other, lesser-known degrees that can launch a career into upper management at a high rate.

1. English

The skills learned when acquiring an English degree are some of the most crucial for business success and can even put you on the fast track towards upper management positions. For example, English majors learn how to speak and write well, as well as debate and negotiate—all things upper-level managers have to be able to do well. They also know how to present themselves in the best possible light and think critically, which makes them valued members of a company and puts them in a much better position to be promoted to upper management. English majors also have to be able to communicate well, especially with the written word, which makes them prime candidates for management and leadership positions who have to complete written tasks when managing their teams and employees.

2. Public Administration

Public administration is essentially the public sector version of the business degree. It teaches many of the same things, from economics and law to leadership skills. Your upper management dreams might not be found in the business world, but in the public sector, where you could work for and manage a municipality. While you can find jobs with a bachelor’s degree in this field, a master’s degree opens many more options, and online master’s degree in public administration programs can provide a higher level of flexibility for working professionals. Public administration careers are in demand, and they really are a great place to combine business background with further education and knowledge.

3. Human Resources

HR professionals can become top executives within their company. Since management is really all about managing people, a degree in human resource management might be a good fit for many people-oriented individuals. In this field, you will oversee the hiring of new staff, manage issues with existing staff, and consult with other executives on company planning and policy. HR managers are also expected to enjoy faster than average job growth in the coming years per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. Accounting

While business majors take accounting and finance classes, a more in-depth option is available if you want to become an executive financial manager. Financial managers often get a seat at the same table as the CEO during meetings and play a direct role in an organization’s success. Responsibilities might include directing investments, planning out a company’s long-term financial prospects, creating reports and making financial recommendations to other executive managers.

Getting into an upper management position can take a few years or more of hard work and working your way up the corporate ladder, and having a strong educational experience behind you can help you along tremendously. If you want your career to include time spent in upper management, it is important to remember to prepare before you start your career. Choose a career that has growth opportunities for the future, or start with a job that will give you experience to get jobs that have growth opportunities. Unexpected things happen in a career all the time, but it can be nice to have a tentative future plan, with room for changes. Above we discussed four careers that can help provide you with the skills and background that are necessary and sought out for in upper level management positions.


Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2 or Facebook.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.