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Education and Careers Work of any kind can get stressful at times. Ask in this forum if you need help with coursework, applications, and more.

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Thumbs down Deciding what to do - February 11th 2012, 06:08 PM

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has faced this problem before, at least I hope I'm not. xD

I thought I had everything planned out, but now I'm not so sure. I wanted to own a bakery, but then my dad brought up a good point while I was talking with him about the other day. Most people just buy their baked goods from the grocery store with everything else they're buying anyways. And plus, bakeries are popping up everywhere nowadays. Too much competition. I just don't think I would be successful if I tried to open one up. And if it fails, where does that put me? It puts me right back where I started in the first place; wondering what in the world I'm going to do with my life.

Even while I wanted to own a bakery though, the idea of majoring in Psychology instead was floating around in my mind. My problem is I just can't stick with one thing that I want to do with my life. I always wonder if I would be happier elsewhere. So my first question is this, how do you actually decide what you want to do and know that you want to do it?

Next up, I've tried researching colleges, but I have no clue where to even start. Time is running out and I need to see what I need to get on my ACT next year to get into the school of my choice. So that of course I can start to discover what areas I need to improve on in school to get that score. Do I just go on college sites that I've heard of and hope that I stumble upon the ACT score thing (That's what I've been trying, but it isn't working too well. xD) Or do I choose what I want to do first and search for colleges that specialize in that area?

Sorry this was a bit long. I'm kind of clueless about all of this right now. And I'm also going through that "OhmygoshwhatamIdoingwithmylife" phase.



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  (#2 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Deciding what to do - February 11th 2012, 07:42 PM

Honestly, you don't have to know what you want to do when you first go to college, you can just take your core classes while thinking about what you want to do. But trust me, you'll know what you want to do when you figure it out. Do what your passionate about in life!

Researching colleges can be overwhelming, I would speak to your guidance cousnelor about that they get you tons of information that will help you decide where you want to go! Also, check out local college fairs and stuff, that's how I found the college that I attend (and love) now! (:


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Re: Deciding what to do - February 12th 2012, 11:42 AM

Ask your guidance counselor if they're competent, although some are not such as my high-school guidance counselor. I found using MacLean's Magazine (Canadian) to be the most helpful resource in determining where to apply. Since you're in the US, The Princeton Review routinely publishes books examining each American college and university with a detailed rating system for you to follow. It can be difficult researching colleges and universities online since I find they sometimes don't give enough information I'd like for applying for my Master's degree. You often have to search the site and even then, your best bet may be to e-mail the contact listed for additional information. I did this for a few graduate programs because the website had such vague information. If you have college/university fairs, I recommend going to them, even if it means going to the university campus and introducing yourself as a prospective student. Whenever I go to these fairs or just around campus, during parts of the year I often see high-school students sometimes with their parents exploring the campus and asking questions.

It doesn't matter if you have no clear idea of what you wanted to study. In first year, I knew I wanted something in medicine, business, computers, math or biochemistry. In other words, my mind was scattered like a jigsaw puzzle. In second year, I studied psychology because I wanted to be a criminal profiler after watching Criminal Minds but found social psychology to be dreadfully boring. I studied some sociology for easy marks. I then found psychology crossed over with biology through neuroscience, which was quite a relief since my plans for biophysics went out the window as I was a lot worse in physics than I thought. It was probably midway through my 2nd year that I had a more defined idea of what I wanted to study.

Don't choose colleges based on certain specialty areas. Many people change their majors. For example, one of my high-school friends changed from philosophy and linguistics to computer science and math. Had he applied to a university specializing in philosophy or linguistics, he would be screwed. This is a pretty drastic example, whereas another friend of mine who I met in first-year changed from a life sciences-chemistry double major to a chemistry-math double major, so had he applied to a university specializing in chemistry, biology and math, he wouldn't have been affected.

I recommend taking a variety of first-year courses, some sciences, some social sciences, some humanities, etc... . You may very well find certain topics you disliked in high-school you may come to enjoy in university because of a much better teaching style.


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Re: Deciding what to do - February 12th 2012, 07:11 PM

I'll start with the research part: start with what criteria you would look for in a school aside from major, since you aren't sure about it yet. Do you want to live at home? What price range is reasonable? Do you want to leave the state?, if so how far away do you want to go? Or start at a community college and transfer later to save money? That will help narrow it down for you. You haven't decided on a major yet, so that won't restrict you because you aren't looking for a specific program. If you're thinking about business or psychology most if not all schools seem to offer both. Even after you start somewhere you have up to 2 years to decide what you really want. If you have trouble deciding, consider a double major or a minor. It might also help to start by figuring out what you DON'T want to do and work by process of elimination.

As for the first question, I bounced around between careers for awhile. I went from pediatrician to psychologist to teacher, back to pediatrician or psychologist, settled on psychologist, and then switched to counselor! I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I knew that with my math ability (or complete lack thereof) medical school wasn't an option. Then I had a really great teacher one year so I thought about 'returning the favor' and become a teacher, then I had a class with a really disruptive student in it and decided I didn't want to deal with kids like that. Suddenly I was back to sqare one and close to decision time so I looked at my personal and life experiences as well as the fact that I knew I wanted to help people and I fell in love with the idea of counseling. It helped people without involving math or chemistry and I knew I had experiences that would help me relate as well as excellent listening skills and patience. So I majored in psychology and then decided on counseling and applied to graduate school.

If you still have no idea, look at the majors pages on school's websites for the major requirments and see what classes look interesting to you, the more you like the better fit it will probably be, and keep in mind that there will be classes in every major that most people don't like. The required ACT scores can probably be found in the "admissions requirments" for incoming freshmen, but where exactly those are depends on the website. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. Good luck


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Re: Deciding what to do - February 12th 2012, 09:18 PM

The bakery idea:
Why not take a couple of business classes while in college, so you know what it takes you start and run your own business? Then, if you still feel like there might be too much competition/not enough demand for another bakery, create a website, spread the news through family members/friends, and offer services from home? For example, many people can't afford to open up restaurants, but they run catering businesses from home. They can save money by not having to rent space for a restaurant, and they can work from home! Maybe you could start off by making pastries for birthday parties, then slowly grow from there to include corporate parties, weddings, etc.

Choosing a career:
First of all, people with psychology majors end up doing all KINDS of things! You don't necessarily have to become a psychological professional (ex. counselor, therapist, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist), nor do you need to go into research. Jon Stewart (comedian) was a psychology major, and he clearly didn't limit himself to such a narrow selection of careers (I'll bet he uses his knowledge of psychology every day in order to determine which jokes will have the greatest impact on his audience, though!).

Secondly, as other members have mentioned, many people go into college as "undeclared," meaning that they did not select a major during the application process. They take general classes for 1-2 years, then decide what they want to major in along the way.

Lastly, while some people "know" what they want to do, other people test out different careers throughout their life. Neither method is "wrong," so long as you're able to support yourself and are happy with what you're working toward! My experience was similar to Kate's, in the sense that I knew I wanted to be a psychological professional, but I couldn't decide upon a specific "role." I eventually decided to pursue a masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. With that degree, I can either go on to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, or I can do something else relating to the field of psychology. There will be limitations, but as I stated previously, many people can obtain jobs that aren't directly related to their degree(s).

At 15 years old, I wouldn't expect you to "know" what you want to do... but it certainly doesn't hurt to start thinking about it! For example, when I was your age, I enjoy reading in the library after school, so I considered becoming a librarian. After doing some research, though, I decided a career in that field wouldn't be satisfying for me. While I enjoy reading books, I wouldn't necessarily enjoy being a librarian. If I were you, I would think about your interests and do some research. Can you integrate those interests into a career somehow? There are websites that discuss various career options based on your interests, so I would look for those. Of course, they're not always going to give you satisfying answers. I took a quiz that suggested I become a police officer! The quiz chose this career path because of my love for justice, but when looking at the job profile, I realized I wouldn't be satisfied with being a police officer.

Choosing Colleges:
What I've discovered is that the college itself doesn't really matter; rather, it's what you can get out of the college that matters. For example, you could go to a prestigious university, but if you don't make the most of your experience, it won't mean much to your future employers. My undergraduate university didn't have anything special when it came to psychology; however, there was a hospital nearby that worked with the university. After making several inquiries and spending countless hours looking at internship opportunities, I found a few that were related to the field of psychology. I applied for one of those positions, and ended up working with patients with schizophrenia. This experience made me stand out when I applied for graduate school. My university was in the top 50, but it wasn't an incredibly prestigious university (public school, unimpressive psychology department). It wasn't the university that my graduate school cared about, though... it was what I did with the time I had at that university.

Like Nick said, you may end up changing your major once, twice, even several times! It happens more often than you'd think. So choosing a school based on how prestigious a program is won't always be the best way to go about it. There are many factors to take into consideration... the cost of tuition, the location of the school, etc. There are some great psychology programs out there which cost $30,000/yr. and are located (literally) in the middle of nowhere. For me, it was important to stay debt-free (because I knew I would be going on to graduate school) and to be in a location where I could be exposed to many different opportunities for professional and personal growth. These are all things you can start thinking about now and discuss with your family members, teachers, and school counselor.

ACT Scores:
Once you start looking at specific universities, you should be able to find admission data on their website (ex. the average ACT score for that academic year). If you are having trouble finding it, call the university's admissions office, and they should be able to provide the information. For now, I wouldn't focus on what the universities want; instead, focus on doing the best you can on the ACT exam. Once you have your score, you can start looking at universities and decide if you need to re-take it in order to be more competitive. Keep in mind that universities will list the AVERAGE scores. You CAN have a lower score and be admitted. My scores were a bit below the average, but I made up for it with my extracurricular activities (again, it's all about what you do with your time - which includes what you're doing with your time in high school!).





   
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