Is career choice an either-or situation? When students foresee the goal of their college education, they are caught in a tug-of-war between the sensible prospect of job security or a career path tailored to their passions and interests. Rarely do they overlap. They may consider the kitchen their happy place, but know that majors in Culinary Arts fall on the lower end of the college grad income spectrum. Therein lies the conundrum: What should be their focus?
Out of a pool of Freshman polled entering UCLA, the majority listed a decent job as their top reason for attending college. This is a clear shift from 20-30 years ago, when gaining skills and exploring interests reigned as the core ideal. As expected, this correlated with an overall deviation from the number of awarded degrees in science and the arts.
Despite technically-driven majors leading to the highest paid entry-level careers (Engineering in particular), such programs offer little if any skills in communication. According to Bloomberg’s “2015 Job Skills” interactive graphic, the most desired and rarer attributes would sorely lack in technical programs: Leadership, Creative Problem-Solving, and Communication.
Speech 101 may cover the basics, but GE courses typically only dip the student’s toe into the pool instead of drilling deeper into specifics, as they are intended. Those students of technical study must then train themselves via self-education or consciously step outside their area of expertise by enrolling in courses unrelated to their degree. This more than likely parallels our earlier mentioned tug-of-war.
Unrelated courses may inspire and motivate, while required material feels more like a tried and true job; it may lead to possible dislike and eventually resent toward their field.
As with life, students should find that golden balance between necessity and passion. Avoid relying on an illustrious career as a renowned author, but find a way to weave your writing prowess into a job with a proven record for stability. Who knows; actively pursuing creative hobbies on the side may end up paying the bills, too!