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Rescue Me: Choosing the Right Degree Program

Rescue Me: Choosing the Right Degree Program

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By Shun McGhee
Contributor, Career Servicescollege-graduate

On a hot and sunny day in the 90’s, my mother and aunt drove me to West Virginia State University. During that seven-hour ride to “State,” I thought about attending college and all it entailed, and I realized I had not chosen a major. I confessed this to my mother, and I asked her what she thought was a good major. She replied, “You should major in business because most professions will have some type of business fundamentals associated with it.” So, I declared Business Management as my major. I’ve found that I’m not alone in this situation; many of the students I’ve spoken with have chosen a major blindly.

Many of those students subscribed to the philosophy that a degree is a degree is a degree, but their realities are different. Now they are desperate to figure out how they can use their degrees to open a career door. This can be particularly problematic when the degree they have earned or are pursuing is completely unrelated to their field of interest. In this competitive job market, they are finding that they need a related degree and relevant experience to be considered highly qualified by potential employers.

To avoid joining this group, you need to take the appropriate time to figure out your ultimate career goals and give a lot of thought to choosing the right degree program to support those goals. This can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is critical to making the right decision. This requires quite a bit of soul searching and self-evaluation. I do not recommend rushing the process. You might want to enter college as an undeclared student, taking only general courses for the first year of school while you figure it out.

Once you know “what you want to be when you grow up,” begin researching the kind of education that employers in that career field are expecting or requiring from applicants. The best way to conduct this research is to search the education section of job announcements in your field of interest.

I was fortunate that my mother was right, and I was able to adapt my degree to fit into my chosen career path. Since graduating with my Bachelors in Business Management, I have held a variety of positions from a customer service representative to a career coach. All of those jobs have required me to draw upon the business principles I learned as a student. For this reason, I do not regret majoring in business, and, if I had to do it all again, I would.

Sometimes though, you need more than your mother’s advice. Determining what you want to do can be daunting, and I encourage you to seek out a career coach for assistance. At American Public University System (APUS), we have trained career coaches waiting to provide this sort of advice. Students or alumni of APUS can email us at careerservices@apus.edu, and a career coach will reach out to you! We look forward to hearing from you.

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