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Profit Versus Pleasure: How to Choose a Degree that Matches Your Career Goals

It’s perhaps the most common choices that you have to make–deciding between what you want to do versus what you should to do. Some people spend their whole lives reconciling the two. If you’re a college student deciding between majors, that decision suddenly gains quite a bit more weight and is sure to have lasting implications. Here’s some practical advice on selecting a degree program when you have to choose between vocation and joie de vivre.

Most professionals fit into two categories. The first is the money-maker–the worker who has forsaken the concept of personal career satisfaction for the prospects of climbing that corporate ladder. The second is the self-fulfiller–the worker who believes a meaningful career should mean more than just a paycheck. Who’s made the best choice? Perhaps both.

In an earlier time, the first few years of college were spent fulfilling a set of core classes common to all majors. Today, many degrees begin specializing from the very first day on campus. And that makes deciding on your career direction all the more critical. As if earning a degree isn’t stressful enough, the weight of your professional life now hangs in the balance.

Student Satisfaction Levels
In the Research and Markets report “The Survey of American College Students: Student Satisfaction with their College,” the firm presents a wide range of data on the feelings of current students with respect to such characteristics as cost aspects, housing quality, the availability of internships and job possibilities, and other facets of college life. The results reveal much about attitudes towards learning experiences. Some of the highlights that might help you in your degree navigation process include:

��� Instructor Accessibility. Highest in the hard sciences and lowest in the fine or performing arts
��� College Continuity. More than 64 percent say that they are sure that they will graduate from their current college
��� Overall Satisfaction. Relatively highly-satisfied with the quality of professors and other instructors

What Loans Have to do With It
You may find that you have no choice with respect to choosing a career for profit or pleasure because student loans might make the choice for you. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, a mountain of post-collegiate debt can steer students into careers they don’t particularly care for. But this isn’t always the case. Boston student career networking service firm Experience Inc. surveyed 336 current students and recent graduates to delve into this phenomenon.

��� Current Students. 27 percent said student loans are affecting their decisions to pursue particular careers
��� Recent Grads. 47 percent say their career pursuits are influenced by loan payments, while only 40 percent said they actually took a higher pay, lower satisfaction job

The Final Word: Salary versus Satisfaction
Perhaps the only way to get down to the core of the matter is to consider the opinions of experts in the field. 20somethingfinance.com blogger G.E. Miller presents both sides of the coin. While financial independence is a critical component of fulfillment, you can’t put a price tag on finding true passion in your job. Also, Complete Wellbeing blogger ROLI Gupta reminds you that giving up money and the security to follow your dreams takes courage.

Publish date: July 20, 2009