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College 101: The Graduate Gamble

I could use some help figuring out my options after graduation. I’m a college senior preparing to walk this May. I’ll be graduating with a degree in psychology. I’ve been exploring possible career opportunities but find that the task is pretty discouraging. Despite my major, I really don’t want to go into psychology or psychiatry.

Some of my friends have jobs lined up already. Others are applying to graduate school. Very few of them don’t have any direction, much like me. I’m trying to decide what I should be doing. Does graduate school make sense in my situation? What are some other jobs suited to psychology majors?

There are no simple answers to your questions. Much of this comes down to personal preference, timing, and chance. The first thing to do is disregard what your peers are doing. Starting a successful career won’t be possible if you’re constantly drawing unhelpful comparisons.

One suggestion is to first research what you can about career paths for psychology majors. A contributor to Psychology Today composed a list of 14 options you might have overlooked. There’s a wide variety of different roads to carefully consider. Be certain to investigate the necessary qualifications for any you find interesting. Don’t assume that the criteria or the application process are similar to one another.

Another sound strategy is to clearly identify and prioritize the most desirable career outcomes. For instance, this author at Lifehacker published a helpful guide with ten ways to find your career path. Some topics might be completely irrelevant to you, but it’s likely that at least a few will be insightful. While such a methodical approach might seem like overkill, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to Senior Writer Sharon Florentine at CIO, college graduates should be prepared for a cutthroat job market. In other words, you’ll need to tap into every possible competitive advantage to stand apart from your peers vying for the same open positions. That being said, you shouldn’t become disheartened or discouraged. The situation for graduates with a college degree is still very promising.

Researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the unemployment rate for college graduates hovered just below 5%. With no shortage of available jobs, your biggest barriers are finding positions aligned with your career preferences and then investing sufficient time to the application process. On the other hand, it’s possible that you opt to avoid entering the workforce in lieu of earning an advanced degree.

Attending graduate school is no easy decision and make no mistake: there are significant differences between the undergraduate and graduate student experiences. Peruse what’s already been written about making the choice and the factors involved. Similar to selecting a career path, determining when, where, and what to study can be extraordinarily challenging.

There’s a balance you’ll want to strike if you do conclude that furthering your education is the best move. One possibility is electing to enroll in distance learning. For example, there’s the Linfield online continuing education, which has multiple degrees and professional certificates. A less conventional alternative includes vocational or trade schools. Becoming an automotive and diesel technician is one example outcome.

The path you take is ultimately the result of your accumulated choices. Rely heavily on patience, forethought, and confidence to ensure a favorable future.

“It is because Humanity has never known where it was going that it has been able to find its way.” -- Oscar Wilde

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