When you’re 18 years old, being required to choose a degree can seem like the most daunting prospect in the world – it feels as if in that moment you have decided what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. But choosing a course you later discover is not for you doesn’t make you a failure – after all, the first step to deciding what you want to do is to figure out what you don’t want to do. Here, five telltale signs you may have chosen the wrong degree:
1. You chose your degree based on its perceived earning potential
While certain qualifications are indeed required for certain jobs, your degree isn’t a golden ticket to riches. Yes, a healthy income will bring security to your adult life, but just remember that your job is going to occupy at least a third of it. That’s a big chunk doing something you’re not happy doing just so you can drive a smart car. What’s more, say Leonard Schlesinger and Charles Kiefer, authors of Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, when you’re heading into the unknown, desire is all-important: “You simply want to be doing something that you love, or something that is logically going to lead to something you love, in order to do your best work. That desire will make you more creative and more resourceful, and will help you get further faster.”
2. You picked your degree following the advice – or demands – of friends and family
It may not be easy to change courses when your parents are pulling the purse strings, especially if their financial support comes with their terms – and one of those is your field of study. If it is simply not possible to reason with them on this, consider that statistics show that today’s graduates will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetimes. Keep the passion for what you love alive by taking short courses or subjects in your field of interest while you get your degree. You’ll find that when you enter the marketplace, these skills are transferable between jobs. So perhaps you studied law but really wanted to be a psychologist? Your criminal knowledge could stand you in good stead one day as a forensic psychologist.
3. You just sort of drifted into your degree
As you look back on how you picked your degree, you slowly begin to realise you went with it based solely on its earning potential, or because a friend or parent told you to, or because you just sort of drifted into it. One sure-fire way of testing the waters on whether you’re in the right course is to take an internship, job shadow or do volunteer work during the holidays. If you really can’t imagine yourself in that environment for your whole working life, perhaps it’s time to consider changing direction. Yes, in a perfect world going to university or college helps land us the job of our dreams but if the very thought of what a future in that field holds fills you with dread, it’s time to put your foot on the brake and ask yourself if you’re in the wrong degree.
4. You’re doing badly in your courses
It’s a simple equation: if the interest isn’t there, neither will be the grades. Making a career out of something you love doing may sound like a pipe dream – or, at the very least, the exception to the rule, but whoever coined the phrase “do what you love and the money will follow” may have been onto something. Numerous studies have shown that happy people tend to earn higher salaries – and it stands to reason that these high-earners are happy – at least in part – because they have jobs they love.
5. You’re inspired by other subjects
If you’re uninspired by the subject matter of your current courses and find yourself reading about or researching those in the field you’d far rather be entering, you should consider changing track. Don’t let the fact that you’ve already invested time and energy on courses you will now no longer need for your preferred degree convince you to stay put. Instead, remember that the morphing of skills in the job world is becoming an increasing reality and you’ll no doubt be called on to use that experience at some stage in your career. So while you may have studied finance and now find yourself longing to pursue a career in corporate coaching, chances are your financial knowledge will stand you in good stead should you ever be recruited to coach within a banking institution. As world-renowned American futurist Dr Thomas Frey is fond of saying: 60% of the best jobs in the next 10 years haven’t even been invented yet. Who’s to say there won’t be a job custom suited to your seemingly random combination of expertise.
Are you yearning for a career in coaching, psychology or counselling? Why not consider making the switch to SACAP? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of courses, diplomas and degrees, with various options for study, from online learning to a full-time on-campus education. For more information, click here.