Your cheat sheet for choosing the right college program
Choosing the right program to take in college is a big decision. While many Centennial College programs are brief, running only a year in length, it’s still a big chunk of time, and you want to make sure you’re spending that time right. Picking your career path isn’t something you should decide quickly, or because of what other people want. Instead, you want to take your time and get it right. Similarly, if you’ve started a program, but feel it isn’t right for you, it’s okay to change direction. Here’s some advice on how to make your decision.
Take your time and figure out what you want
Going to college right out of high school doesn’t have to be the norm. In fact, going into college unprepared can be a big mistake. We may make fun of students taking a year off to “find themselves,” but there are good reasons for that, like thinking your next moves through carefully. You’re not in a race to finish your education, and the modern college graduate can be any age, and from any background. I found myself choosing my college path while in high school and looking back, it was far too early and too sudden of a choice, and could’ve used more thought. Things turned out alright for me, but I could have gotten where I am faster if I’d taken even a year off after high school to pick a more efficient path. Better to wait, watch and consider, rather carefully than spending time and money going to college for something that isn’t right for you.
We can help, too
Right at the front of Centennial College’s website are two tools that can help you make these decisions, a Personality Test, and our Career Explorer. They can be used to match you to a career field and point you to programs at the college that match your talents. It's not the only thing you can use to make your choice, but it's certainly a good start. Aside from that online tool, you can also visit our Academic Advising Centre, with experts that’ll help you get the most out of your education.
First, make sure you have the right career
The “right” career can be a tricky balancing act to find. On one hand, you want a career you’ll enjoy, something that’ll make you happy. And doing what you love as a career isn’t just a luxury, it can be a necessity. A career you don’t like is a career you won’t do well in, putting your livelihood at stake in the process. So you need to think about what you want to be doing. Do you want a career that’s laid back, or will it make you bored? Do you crave action, or will it stress you out? These are things you need to think about.
Pick something you’re good at
A career you’re good at can go hand in hand with enjoyment since if you have natural talents in something, you can enjoy it more. An important part of this is picking the skills you’re best at and identifying your talents. These talents don’t have to be obvious, direct things, but can be skills like critical thinking or teamwork. Take a look at yourself, and the skills you already have, both in school (math, science, music) and outside of school (fixing computers? cooking?) If you can’t find yours, you have to dig deeper. I’ve found speaking to family and friends about it can help you find what they are because they notice things about yourself that you may not.
Pick something with real career prospects
Money doesn’t buy happiness. But it buys stability and security, which can make you happy. When deciding your career path, it’s in your interest to pick something that’ll have you financially stable in the long run. So, if you have your heart set on a career, have a look at what the job prospects are, how easy or hard it is to break into the field, what things are projected to be like in the future (expanding job market? Shrinking one?). Also, look at what you can expect to make (Payscale’s Canadian site can help with that). You’ll need to be able to give yourself a roof and food. Just remember, it’s not worth it to pick a career you dislike, even if it pays well.
By Anthony Geremia