Is this you? It’s time to start thinking about further education, but you don’t have a single thought. Plenty of people have been there before – post-secondary education is a big step and the thought of locking yourself into a career you don’t like is a distressing one. If you have absolutely zero ideas on where you’d like to go from here, don’t worry. Ask yourself a few questions and see if you can get a better idea about your ideal future from there.
1. What are you interested in?
Don’t force yourself to do something you hate because it’ll make a lot of money, and don’t just pick an area of study without properly weighing whether you’d like it or not. You don’t even have to take your current strengths and weaknesses into account, provided they aren’t too far removed from your options – for instance, if you could never get a grasp on high school science, you probably won’t fare well with post-secondary science, but if you think you’d like to be a hairstylist and have never cut or dyed hair before, that’s definitely a skill you can learn from the ground up in college.
Decide where your interests lie and how you can apply that to schooling – and these interests can be literally anything! For instance, if you like making TikTok videos, consider a social media management program, or a marketing or communications program for something more broad. For each hobby you have, figure out a way to apply it to a post-secondary program or career path, and see if any of them overlap or call to you.
2. What would you like to avoid?
When you imagine your future career, what are complete workplace dealbreakers for you? For example: are you someone who prefers to work in a hands-on environment and doesn’t want anything to do with theory? If that sounds like you, you might be more suited to programs at colleges than at universities, because colleges skip straight to the hands-on work and teach you hard skills. Maybe it’s less broad than that: maybe you don’t want to work in an office job, or you would prefer something where you don’t have to have artistic skills. These are great starting places – look up jobs that reject all the little things you dislike and see if you can narrow down a major from there.
3. What offers a lot of options?
If you feel like you can’t settle on a career path, consider what majors will give you a lot of opportunities you’d be interested in. Research the types of jobs you could get with certain areas of study. For example, you could probably land a bigger variety of jobs with a communications degree than a history degree. While you may be interested in both, if you’re unsure what you’d like to do, communications would be your best bet, career-wise, because there’s a lot to choose from. That way, you’re stretching out the amount of time it’ll take to decide what career would suit you, or giving yourself options so you can switch job paths with ease. If you’re completely unsure of what you’d like to do with your future, there’s nothing worse than boxing yourself into one skill when you could be picking up many.
Plus, post-secondary is a great time to truly discover yourself and what interests you – take a big variety of classes when you finally get to school to see if any speak to you. If you did go the communications route, for instance, you’ll be able to take classes in film, advertising, journalism, and plenty more – there’s a lot of time to figure out what you like.
Obviously, choosing an area of study is a lot more nuanced than these three questions, but they should give you a good starting point if you’d like to go to school but are lost on where to begin. If you still can’t figure it out, don’t fret – everyone’s career path looks different and it’s better to make no moves than the wrong one. Take a gap year if you need to, work in different jobs and see if anything ends up appealing to you. Don’t even stress about needing a degree if you don’t actually want one – there are great jobs you can get without one. You’ll find a job you love eventually!
Need more advice on your career path? Ask Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr, One Career Question!
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock