I'm in my fourth year of college. Spring semester starts the 14th but I really don't want to continue taking classes right now. I've changed my major twice since beginning college 4 years ago so I have a wide variety of classes but not enough of any one discipline to have a degree yet. I thought maybe taking a break would help me realize what I truly want to pursue. Any thoughts on this?
I'm asking because when I was a Uni lecturer, I found the answer to this question was very important for the outcome of student learning.
I'm in college because that's what is expected of young people today. Educators start early on us about going to college. I was in 8th grade when my school first took us to a community college for a tour. But if you go straight to college right out of high school, how are you supposed to know what is right for you and what you will enjoy and be passionate about?
Well that's just it, many people don't know. In fact you may change your mind many times during your life time and that's OK. I've been a complaints officer for a thermal underwear company, a nurse, a chaperone for people who were about to be told they were terminally ill, a care plan co-ordinator for older persons care in a posh private care company and a social policy lecturer. Now I just grow veg.
My point is that, if your lucky, you will have time to have more than one career. Now for the tricky question, what would you like to do first? If it's get some work experience, will you have the where with all to go back to college later? If you don't have long to go before finishing, would it be so bad if you finished your degree? No one will make you take a job in engineering if that's not what you want to do. A degree says as much about your staying power and tenacity as the subject. If Maths floats your boat, then there's your answer. ............ For now
Kathryn, I'm really liking your insight
I think the main issue I am having right now is that I currently work full-time as a purchasing coordinator for a chemical company. It's a decent job and pays well for someone my age. I took the job because at the time, I was really desperate for a job and someone I know here got me in. Also, at the time I was hoping to transition into business related classes. However, it only took about one business class and a week working here when I realized that the corporate/business environment is NOT for me. I'm sticking around because it pays my bills and is giving me experience.
But for months, I have been reading up on different volunteering prospects - AmeriCorp, Peace Corp, Habitat for Humanity...mainly Peace Corp though, and trying to figure out what it is all about. I just feel like I have a different purpose than what I've been working for and it's like as each day goes on, it calls out to me even more. I'm in love with the idea of going abroad and doing hard work to help those who are way less fortunate than myself. I am aware that for the Peace Corp, they typically accept those with at least a Bachelors degree. But I've also read that it's really about the life experiences and skills you have to offer. Anytime I think about going abroad, my chest just fills up with excitement and curiosity. Any thoughts on this? Did you come across thoughts like this when you were younger or from college students you interacted with?
Yes many and you've just answered your own question. Why don't you find out more about the Peace Corp? Ask their recruitment officer what they would like to see in a candidate. This will earn you Brownie points for being keen and using your initiative plus you can begin planning how to achieve your goal of working abroad. Don't bin the degree just yet it may come in handy. Find out what your options are and then go for it girl!
Hi there! I just graduated last year and your posts are really resonating with me. I would say finish SOMETHING, because having a bachelors in anything at all will open up many doors to you. With your interests, I would take a look at Anthropology classes (if you can place into an upper level one try that- they are more topical than related, so don't worry about getting in the 101). In my senior year I took medical anthropology and was like WOAH, how did I not realize that THIS is what I want to do in life?
Funny thing was, I was just taking it because I needed 1 more elective in that area or something.
So finish your degree quickly and get out of there! With the degree you can get onto one of these programs. I suggest looking at americorps, JET teaching abroad (I actually have some hubs on this as it's what I ended up choosing for now), peace corps, greenpeace, etc.
Hope you find your passion! Keep us updated
I would suggest finishing up school and earning a bachelors degree. I have an MBA and one of the things that I found most difficult was to finish up my bachelors when I was younger. Most people get jobs not based on the degree that they have gotten from college but based on their work experience. A college degree is becoming a prerequisite for higher paying salaried positions which is why it is important to complete your degree. Also, I changed my major a couple of times too in college. Take care and best of luck to you.
What are you interested in as a career? First of all, you must decide on a feasible major and take courses related to that major. You should also enroll in an internship program in order to gain relevant work experience.
It is not good to be constantly changing majors especially now. It is best to decide on a career during the junior and senior year of high school. At that time, a student should do some research and start reading some books regarding their career interest. In addition to that, study the economic climate regarding the feasibility of that career. While some careers are relatively stable, others are not.
The majors that will guarantee a somewhat stable career are those relating to math, technology, health, medicine, engineering, computer technology, and the hard sciences. If one chooses to major in liberal arts, the humanities, and social sciences, have a backup plan and add courses in math, technology, computers, and other technical areas that will guarantee a job after graduation.
Most of my classes pertain to electrical and mechanical engineering technology. I enjoy math - to a degree. But I'm not sure that pursuing engineering is right for me. I do not enjoy the classes.
You're still really young, so taking a break won't hurt you. But the points raised about the risk of not finishing later are very valid. The ratio of applicants for job postings is huge,and hiring managers look for reasons NOT to interview people. One way they eliminate applicants is to set aside those who don't have the degree. So eventually, no matter what field you're in, a degree can give you a cutting edge.
Take some time off and find out what you want to do. Without being focused on a particular goal and career, you are jut wasting precious time and money.
I think that it is perfectly reasonable to take time off school. I think that unless you know exactly what you're wanting to do with your life, or with your education, then continuing college past the pre-recs is a wasting money. I think it is also extremely important to be able to take time and discover the self before going on to school. I have a friend that I met when I was in a college program for high school kids, where we could start our AA before graduating. He was 28 at the time and just getting his AA. Now he owns his own business making websites and programming computers. When he finished high school he was all but a drop out, failing most of his classes. He got into lots of different drugs, and went into the air force for a couple of terms, got back into drugs - and then eventually realized it was time to get his life on track. I'm not saying that's how you go and discover yourself and live, but rather that it's never too late to get into school and make something of yourself.
Re your comments about the Peace Corps. They almost always want people with a college degree, unless you are highly experienced in some valuable field. With the degree, they don't much care what you studied. I wrote a Hub a while back about the process of joining the Peace Corps.
So, right now you are in a job that pays decent, but you don't love, and in school, which you also don't love.
How are your finances? Can you afford the school if you are not working? Loads of debt? Taking a break is not a bad idea, just don't get stuck in a job that becomes a career you hate.
I read that Hub of yours about the Peace Corps. My finances are decent. I'm below 10k in college debt, no car payment, and my rent is cheap. Not too worried about finances. At least at the moment, I'm not. Afford school without working? Yes. But it's going to take some major gumption before I can get up and leave my job (and some more time. I've only worked there since May).
And that's just it! - I do not want to be stuck in a career a hate. I've seen too many people do that. Wasted so many precious years sticking to the same old grind because they either were financially stuck or because they were too apprehensive to try something absolutely new.
I do think I should get 'A' degree. From what some people are saying, I could probably be quite close to something if my classes were all laid out and put together with the addition of a few more. Then that is when I should really get serious about the Peace Corps. However, I do think I should at least talk with a recruiter and put a bug in their ear as well as heed any advice on the path that they think I should take if I plan to pursue the Peace Corps. I guess I'm just seeking advice and wisdom from adults who have more life experience and real world knowledge. And many people here are helping tremendously.
Finish your degree. Almost everyone that 'takes a break' never gets those last few credits.
In my experience, once you stop you have a much lower chance of getting your degree. And if you do, it will be when you have a f/t job and probably kids and have been told by your job that they will not promote you until you get that degree. Need I tell you how hard going back to school is under those circumstances?
Tough it out. You can always use that piece of paper to get you into other certification programs when/if you change your work direction.
Personally, I NEVER worked in the industry of my degree BUT that little piece of paper opened doors that other could not get through w/o the degree!
What you're saying sounds very similar to what others keep telling. And it does make sense. I think I am going to schedule a meeting with a general advisor at my college rather than my department advisor and talk about different options. If you read above in my reply to Kathryn, I explain a little more about my thoughts and situation right now.
I agree and tough it out. Most of us have been in that spot; wanting to stop before graduation.
Try to interview some electrical engineers or others who are in the math fields. Go to career counselors or employment agencies to see what careers are suited for your abilities and courses.
I almost dropped out at the same point, and have been forever glad I didn't. As others have said the chances of going back for that last, lonely term are slim; you will have wasted 3 1/2 years for nothing.
Tough it out for one more semester, or even a year if need be, but get that diploma. You may have every intention of completing it in the future, but relatively few do, particularly if they dropped out because they were bored of it or just tired of the grind.
Since your almost done just finish anyway.
Mark Zuckerberg took a break from college and he never got to finish. Not everyone is motivated by the objectives of finishing college. Some people have different personalities and different objectives than what a college education can provide.
That's the thing. Since I started my engineering 2 years into college, I'm really only half way there. I'm burned out. I may be in my fourth year of college, but I'm not close to my degree.
You may have enough credits to get a different degree, even at another college. Check out Excelsior.edu - it's designed for adults who have varied academic backgrounds, fully acredited & flexible.
I went to college straight after high school (only took the summer off) and changed my major twice while there. Finally, after taking a classes, I found out what I was most interest in. By that time, I'd only had my basics and a few core requirements covered, so basically had to "start fresh" with classes for the new major that I went into. This pushed me back a year, but it was all worth it, because I was studying what I loved. I would suggest maybe taking some time off to "discover" yourself and figure out what your interests are. Maybe you can even make a list of the top 3 majors that you'd be interested in and take a class from each one of those to see how you like it. Good luck to you!
Thank you! Wishing you the best, as well. You will figure it out
It is a very tough world and a very competitive job market. You seem very bright and talented. Congratulations for holding down a job while going to college. I can imagine you're a little burnt out right now, but, because everything is so competitive, I would urge you to get your bachelor's degree without taking a break. I heard of one person who had various credits from various colleges, but not enough to make a degree. Her local community college helped her put everything together, with some additional courses, and I think she either has her degree or is just a few credits shy of her degree. She has also found a job in a field she loves. Best of luck to you.
You sound like an intelligent young woman. You've received some helpful advice. I encourage you to make an appointment with a college counselor and allow him to help you see what options you have at this point. You're so close, getting a degree will give you a sense of accomplishment and will open more doors for you in the future, even with the Peace Corps, if that is a serious consideration.
I would also spend some time thinking about what you have gained so far in your college career and write down what you would like to further accomplish. Sometimes writing things down helps us put our thoughts in a clearer perspective. There's nothing particularly easy about finishing a degree when you feel burned out, but it sounds like you simply need someone to help you visualize your college education in a more long term perspective. It is their job to help you and they can be a tremendous source of encouragement and rejuvenation for the continual work ahead. I've met a number of adults who wished they would have finished their degree when they were younger. Good luck to you!
Rebekah, thank you for the nice words. And you're right, I have received a lot of helpful advice - I will talk with a college counselor about my options. And I think everyone is right - I need to finish my degree. Even if it takes me a little longer than I had hoped, I will have accomplished something that will only help me in life.
And I am quite serious about the Peace Corps. Talking about it and hearing others rationale on it really helps. And it only makes more and more sense to me that I pursue it. Thank you for your advice. It really means a lot to me.
I respect your coming into a forum and asking for advice. It's obvious that you are genuinely seeking input and it's great to see the thread respondents have helped you. At one time I had also thought about the Peace Corps, but another door opened of which I was happy to walk through. Happy 2013.
Ummm well--I changed my major 11 times. I finally realized if I could have my way I would change it 11 more times taking classes from even more departments. It was the best fun. Finally one day I sat down with myself and said, "self---today you are going to pick a major and whether or not you decide it is the best major you are going to finish it".
And I did finish it. The commitment is what I learned about. I committed to a major that was not really "me" at the time. However I finished it and found a great job in the area of the majjor which ultimately situated me with tools for a better life in general.
Would I do it the same again? For me, yes. I have now waited many years to apply for a master's as I am "guilty" of wanting to major an study in everything.
By committiing to somethiing you gain pride in completing something whether it is the "perfect" major or not. Nothing is perfect but you can always "add to" the basic product.
In my case I learned I needed something with more numbers in it and my major didn't provide that satisfaction. In life though I have completed professional designations and certifications that fill the "void" of my major. Education is so flexible and available today. I say make a commitment and learn from that.
Hey ienjoythis, I'm sorry to hear that your college academic experience hasn't been as inspiring as you had hoped. I understand your urge to take a break, but I agree with the others who suggest that you just take a big gulp and finish your degree.
What you major in isn't really as big a deal as you might think. Most people don't work in a field that directly relates to their college major. And even if you decide to go to grad school, it's not always necessary that your undergraduate degree match your graduate field of study. What seems to be the most important thing is that you have a degree, period.
Good luck with whatever you decide!
Congratulations of hesitating and seeking advice before you leave school. That shows a lot of maturity and levelheadedness.
If you want to end your present college time as quickly as possible, you can do it by choosing the least taxing degree that you are closest to reaching.
You probably have most of your general requirements finished - the core classes that you have to complete before you finish any degree. Have those sorted out with a list of which ones you still need to complete before you go into a general counselor. Then you'll use your time with the counselor better by focusing on what you could take to get some sort of math degree in the shortest time. A math degree is appreciated by a wide variety of potential employers.
Good luck and thanks for having such a generous spirit. If you do choose the Peace Corp or AmeriCorp, I'm sure you'll gain a great deal of satisfying life experience.
Keep at it! You're in the home stretch. This is no time to tucker out! Push through and cross that finish line!
I can completely relate! When I went through college I was too displaced from my passions or even understanding of life to really get all that I should have out of it. 12 years later, I have a super clear picture of my aspirations, passions and a greater understanding of life. I am now finishing up my Masters and on track to pursue a better career and direction. So, if I could do it all over again, I would have waited a bit longer before going to college- or at least, hoped for greater direction and purpose in my college experience.
Ok, so I say that to say this- this may surprise you- Undergraduate degrees in this day and age are the new default degree. Meaning, college can now be understood as an extension of high school. Most employers expect a college degree as a key qualifier now (often, without specificity for major). So I will say that in your case, because you have already begun and are so close to finishing, you will regret not finishing. In your case, college will be a worthwhile liberal arts extension of high school that will ultimately pay off in leading you to a better paying job while your explore your interests further- even part time (you stand to make more money part time with a college degree vs. no college degree). It is tough out there in this economy without at least a college degree. I believe you can finish your diverse degree (regardless if it is not specific) and go on to realize your passions afterwards.
Trust me, you will never regret finishing your degree. Time off at your stage (being so close to finishing) will only discourage you from continuing; and your work thus far will fade without return. Once you finish, take some time off and explore. At least you will have one of the most important attributes to your background; a college education. Then, after you have done some exploring, thinking and resting, go for your Masters in a specific field or.... go for more specialized training or... join an organization you love and build your career from the ground up in a subject matter that you love or... even start your own business. But by all means, go for it and finish your college degree. You won't regret it. OH... and do your best. Get good grades. I am realizing that a decade later after my undergraduate degree, I am still being asked for my GPA. I wish you the best and God Bless!
I can tell you that it is VERY VERY hard to go back to college. It takes a lot of time and money and often when you escape it you don't want to return. I would recommend career counseling or seeing a career coach. You college may offer these services. The book "What Color is Your Parachute" may also be useful.
That being said, my best friend left and then went back years later. She ended up basically starting over and loves what she does now. She left engineering and went to business school.
Keep in mind that you can change careers and get more education at any point in your life. My other best friend may end up doing that and she has a masters degree, but she is unhappy and needs a change. I saw a stat once that we all end up in around 3 career fields in out lifetimes. Also keep in mind that many workplaces want to see that piece of paper. My boyfriend found that out the hard way. He lucked out and went to dealer school for our casinos that just opened, but that was still school.
*UPDATE* Thank you ALL for your wisdom and insight!
Since my educational meltdown/crisis, I have since figured things out and have decided to continue with school. I talked with a career counselor at school and she suggested that I pursue a Bachelor's of Integrated Studies. She thought this would be best for me because of the wide variety of classes I have already taken and with this degree you pick 3 concentrations instead of one major. It is for students who wish to have freedom in the classes they take and have an extremely well-rounded approach. I also told her about my Peace Corps goals and she couldn't have been more supportive or encouraging! She told me that in her 17 years of advising, she hasn't had any students ask her about the Peace Corps and that if I do apply and get accepted, that she wants to here all about it!
I am set and determined for what I want. Anxious and unsettled, but very patient because I know it will take some work to get there. And most of all, I have my dad's approval and support!
Thank you, again, for all your help.
That's very exciting news. Congratulations.
May I suggest that perhaps your biggest problem was not your classes and study dilemma but the full-time job that you hate? You wrote "I think the main issue I am having right now is that I currently work full-time as a purchasing coordinator for a chemical company." I believe that is absolutely correct.
I suggest you stick with the study but give the job the flick. I know it is good money but there's bound to be other jobs that you can apply for, and you don't have to leave your current job until you find another one. You said one of the reasons you are remaining at the job was to get experience. You really don't need any more experience as purchasing coordinator for a chemical company unless you want to pursue a future career as a purchasing coordinator for a chemical company! You just need experience in the workplace ... any workplace ... and ideally a place that you enjoy going, especially if it is full-time.
I can't help but wonder if part of the Peace Corps appeal is that it offers a a safe and respectable excuse for leaving a job that you don't like. Just leave the job and find a new one, finish your study, and then see how you feel about the Peace Corps.
Best of luck.
Thank you so much for your thoughts
And I can certainly understand your reasoning on the Peace Corps. The thing is, I've always wanted to travel to other parts of the world, experience a radically new culture and help people who need it- to be a part of something much bigger than myself. About a year ago, a longtime friend told about his Peace Corps goals and gave me a general overview of the Peace Corps' goals and mission. I thought the idea was cool but did not know enough to really consider it for myself. Over the last couple of months, I've done so much research on it, as well as talk to other Peace Corps volunteers who are currently abroad or who have returned. And the more I learn about it, both positive and negative aspects, the more I feel drawn to it. For once in my life I feel at peace because I have a goal. I understand that I'm not going to change the world, but I will make a difference.
Good for you, this is great news! Enjoy your studies, enjoy the planning for your future and most of all enjoy being you. Fantastic to hear that you are getting full support from your Dad, that must mean a lot. Wishing you every success, what a great way to start the year.
So happy to hear this. You must feel so much more peaceful now that you've made this decision.
That is so awesome! Congrats to you on figuring everything out. We were all cheering for you!
Thanks for sharing your news with us. It's great to see you took action on the advice you received. So many come to the forums asking questions, but not really wanting advice. It's wonderful to hear your news and I wish you the best with your education and future plans. It sounds like you were able to consult with a caring college counselor.
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