Problems, problems, and more problems!

Ok so I'm currently going to college. It's put into perspective that I need to chose a major NOW to plan for the future so I'm not wasting time or money, but I have no idea what career path to pursue. In all honesty I feel as if I'm not significantly good at the conventional career choices. Only the more abstract kind of things like photography, art, science, and history. None of those I feel would make it so I could be successful and not have to struggle like I did growing up. The way I see it is that the actual academic things I'm good at, like science and history, I wouldn't be able to do something fun and exciting with my life. I don't want to come off as sounding greedy either but I want a comfortable lifestyle where I'll ACTUALLY be able to get a job when I graduate and actually be able to afford a fun vacation to somewhere exotic. I feel like I'm stuck in a rut and stressing myself out. Any advice or career possibilities you think would "fit me"? Or should I just go for something I'm good at or do something I'll enjoy doing?

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6 replies since 23rd January 2013 • Last reply 23rd January 2013

As someone who's a history student that USED to be an art student, I can say that going to college for art is a huge waste of money. After you get done with the intro-level stuff, you stop learning anything that's really going to be new to you.

HOWEVER, photography is actually a really profitable art form, especially because of sports, fashion, and journalism. Art, being lab-oriented, costs a lot of money for materials, and there are usual additional lab use charges ranging from $50-200, depending on the class. Having gone to school for art full time, I had a few semesters where I had to spend nearly $1000 on supplies on top of tuition and other later lab fees.

Majoring in history means reading A LOT of books CONSTANTLY. As a historian now, I rarely put down a book to do anything else, but that's not to mean I don't have free time... I just end up using a lot of my free time to read even more books.
Science is going to require a lot of reading time as well, plus hands-on labs that can cost a lot in college... my Chemistry lab that I need for general requirements has been about $1000 per semester for two semesters, on top of $3600/semester for my other 12 credits.

My advice is to always start out at community colleges because classes are a lot cheaper compared to state and private colleges... even if you get accepted into a prestigious private school, go to community college first to get your generals out of the way and figure out what you really want to do.
I got accepted into Carnegie Melon University (which was $52,000 a year) when I was fresh out of high school, but I opted to go to community college (about $3800 a year) and then I moved out of state to go to a state university ($8000-9000 a year).
My niece who's about 20 goes to a private college and she hasn't been impressed with the skill of the teachers. So, your best bet is to check out state universities.

Everything comes at a different cost, and it's important to keep in mind that you don't always get what you pay for.

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Thanks for the advice, I'm actually already enrolled in a state university that is known for it's engineering program. It was part of the reason I chose to go there, also because it's my home town, but I was contemplating being an engineering major but I'm not the greatest at math so I decided against it. Your advice and info on the experiences you've had has helped and put some things into perspective for me but I'm still just as confused as ever lol. I think because I never really got to experiment with things when I was little, aside from a couple sports, I never REALLY found what I was good at that would give me an "ah ha!" moment enough to say that that's what I want to do for a career. Plus they're things that I'm passionate about, like photography for instance that don't give me the practical sense of security that I want/need to live comfortable unless I become a famous photographer lol.

But then again I've also thought about my situation as if I do something I consider "practical" for the lifestyle I want and then there's always the opportunity to do things I enjoy on the side and not waste my money and have to end up going back for a different major. I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place and there's no way out except for a dismal compromise. Happy

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Well, you could always minor in photography and choose something else as a major program. My goal is to work at museum so I have paired my art history minor with a history major. At some point I want to get a master's in history to be a college professor... but teaching is not something that brings in good pay, and museum pay is only good if it's a great position or prestigious museum.

If you want something profitable, mass communication and business are always popular.

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SJSU? My friend goes there for civil engineering Happy

I, like you, didn't really try out stuff until late into high school (except music....my high school was a sort of arts superpower but wasn't really good for other programs)...

I guess, no matter what you decide to major in, it doesn't necessarily determine exactly what type of career you get.

I'm a first year environmental science major now, but I'm interested in minoring engineering (because...I like to craft, hence MAKE stuff)....but with my major, even though it seems like it sounds like I'm limited myself to science, I found out there SO many different paths I could take: business, engineering, law, policy, research, or even some combination of a few things. I could even go into the arts, like.....working on science TV programs since that's how I kinda found out I loved things that were in a fuzy area of the hard and soft sciences (...or, I guess the most random career I've heard was "sparkling winemaker" ...apparently an alumni at my school became one and my college decided that it was important enough to include in the careers of alumni list, hahahaha! And science not fun? I've had professors and TA's (is that what you call them? My school's a special snowflake and we call them GSI's) who've traveled and worked with people as well as out in nature in Malaysia, China, Ecuador, etc. to do research! Another professor often goes to third world countries (especially one country in South America and another in Africa, I can't remember which ones at the moment), sometimes with students, and they get to work in the field actually with the people there to figure out water sanitation issues. And history, what about archaeology? You'll get to discover things about people who existed so many years ago, and find things that haven't been touched in hundreds, thousands of years! Perhaps it's just the thrill of finding something that no one has ever discovered before that excites me, or getting to help others make the world a better place...

At the beginning of the year, I really did want to transfer majors to engineering just for job security (and, again, because I like MAKING stuff....), but after actually talking to advisers and upper classmen and professors and graduate students, I feel a lot more comfortable with what I've chosen to major in.

I guess the only thing I could say is to still just try out new stuff, talk to professors, talk to advisers, talk to more experienced students already declared with a set major, and see what they do and if anything interests you. Even if their work doesn't SPECIFICALLY interest you but you're kinda interested in the field, ask if they know anything about what you're actually interested in. Pretty likely they'll have colleagues that actually are doing stuff you'll be interested in, and you'll have more chances to get to see what you like Happy

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Oh, also... one thing I can't stress enough as someone who's been in college for 4 years already...
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUN! The whole reason I dropped art as a major is because when I was in high school, I took so much art that by my Junior year, I was only allowed to take either a one-semester art class, or a one-year language class... I actually opted for the language. After that, I spent the past 6-7 semesters in college as an art student and I found that art history was much more fun for me than art production. Then I bought a few books about history and archaeology and discovered just how much I love history as a field.

Art felt very boring after a while, and I had lost all motivation to create it.

Never be afraid to experiment. You could always take a summer class or two in order to experiment and see what different programs have to offer. Book Arts was something I took in the summer once and it became my favorite form of art that I still LOVE to make, but it isn't available as a major program anywhere really. It's a fun hobby though.
Sometimes you just need to take classes to develop fun pastimes and hobbies for yourself.

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As a former career advisor for high school students, I will tell you right now you will waste more time and money declaring a major now if you don’t know what to do then if you were to wait. It would be smart to pull out of the state university and enroll into a community college while you take your pre recs. You will discover what you want to do with your life during the time you are in college. Most people who declare a major in college end up changing it mid-way through anyhow. So don't feel pressured into declaring a major now. It's a bigger waste of time to declare a major right off then to wait.

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