Guest Post: Do Something for Now, by Jennifer Heaton

This post is from my partner, J. It is in answer to a query that comes up frequently in homeschool circles as one’s kids get towards the college-decision moment. J teaches college and has the following thoughts:

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I teach at Metro State University, and here’s what I tell students in this position.

You don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. You don’t even have to know what you want to do in five years. The way you figure out what you want to do is to try things. Making the decision bigger than it needs to be is paralyzing and will keep you from making choices and moving on with your life and achieving things.

If you aren’t sure now, pick something that sounds interesting and accomplish something in that area. Do an internship. Get a job in anything that will give you skills and knowledge, even if that knowledge is that you don’t want to do that sort of job forever. Get a two year degree in something that sounds like you’d like to learn more about it. Take night classes in something you enjoy while temping. Plan to go to college and major in anything that you’re kind of interested in, knowing that you can change your mind. Join the Peace Corps or a similar organization. Pursue a dream—being an artist, saving money to travel the world—while going to school in something you don’t care much about that gives you practical backup skills for a safety net.

People get new degrees and change careers through their 20s and 30s and 40s and even later. Just do something that will give you some skills, teach you something, help you support yourself, and help you learn.

I went to college with no idea of what I wanted to do. I majored in biology because I’d liked it in high school. At the end of my undergraduate career, I decided to go to graduate school in a completely different area. I supported myself by being a teaching assistant and working at a title insurance company until I finished my graduate degree. Now I teach philosophy and ethics to nursing students, and I love my job.

I hear this sort of story all the time. Very few of my students end up doing forever what they wanted to do in high school, and that’s fine. If your plan is to go to college, in many cases the fact that you have a college degree matters a lot more than what the degree is in.

Just do something for now.

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