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Should I Go to College if I Don’t Know What Career to Pursue?

If you’re about to graduate from high school, your parents, teachers and friends may be encouraging you to go to college. If you already know exactly what career you want to pursue, you may be on board with this idea, but what if you aren’t quite sure what you want to do with your life yet?

What Don’t You Want to Do?

If you aren’t really sure what interests you, it may be easier to decide which kinds of jobs you don’t want to have. Many jobs  are available that only require a high school diploma, but before you decide to skip college, check to see whether any of them interest you. Most retail positions don’t require any sort of post-secondary education, and you probably don’t need a degree if you want to work with children in a daycare setting. If you’re an introvert, becoming a mail carrier could be a good choice. You also don’t have to go to school to become self-employed. Many jobs that only require a high school diploma are entry-level, though, and you may have a hard time getting promoted without a degree. If you know that you don’t want to stay at an entry-level position for a long time, consider going to college.


Some people don’t care about money as long as they have enough to live on, but others base their career choice solely on income potential. Neither of these attitudes is better than the other, but if you care a lot about living comfortably and would even like to live a little extravagantly, you should consider going to college. Some individuals who have only earned a high school diploma do very well for themselves, but college graduates generally make more money than people who haven’t gone to college. A recent study from Pew Research shows that the income gap between college graduates and non-graduates isn’t shrinking; in fact, it seems to be widening. Recent college graduates can expect to make about $17,500 more per year than individuals without a degree, so if money is important to you, strongly consider getting at least a bachelor’s degree.

Options for Undecided Students

Don’t fret too much about choosing a major before you go to college. Most colleges and universities have programs for undecided students. If you don’t declare a major as a freshman, you can take general education classes for your first few semesters so that you’ll have more time to think about what you want to do with your life. You can also take this time to take a few courses in subjects that interest you. By taking a wide variety of courses during your first year, you may find a new passion or rekindle an old one. Talking to your advisor and making wise choices about the courses you take should enable you to graduate in four years as long as you make a decision in your second or third semester and don’t declare more than one major or decide to major in something that requires a specific sequence of courses.

In short, don’t worry too much if you can’t choose a major right now. Even if you’re not sure about what career you want to pursue, you can still find the value of a college education.