Preparing for college can be stressful. In addition to applications, entrance exams, and interviews, students are under pressure to choose a major and career path. You can reduce your stress levels by putting things into perspective, finding someone to talk to about your possible choices, and avoiding negative and judgmental people. Exploring different career paths can also help you stress less and make an informed decision about your career path.
EditPutting Things into Perspective
- Know that most students will switch majors. As many as eighty percent of college students will graduate with a major that is different from the one they declared at the beginning of their college careers. This means you can relax a little instead of feeling that the decisions you make today are final.
- You can limit the stress of possibly switching majors by focusing on core and introductory major classes during your first year.
- Many core and introductory courses can transfer easily into your new major if you decide to switch.
- Think of your college major as a jumping-off point. Don’t look at your college major as a permanent career decision. Instead think of it as a place from which you will jump into the working world. Your career will build upon the knowledge, skills, and experiences you gain in college, but that does not mean your major will define your path in life.
- Try to enrich your knowledge, skills, and experiences beyond your major by taking elective courses in other subjects, participating in internships, and seeking out new experiences like studying abroad or taking a gap year.
- Understand your career path will shift in unexpected ways. No matter how well laid your career plan might be, chances are it will change over the course of your lifetime. You can stress less about choosing the perfect career path by knowing that the type of work you do will shift during your life.
- For example, a theatre major who intended to have a career in performance might end up as a successful project management specialist in the arts sector.
- Find someone to talk to. Making decisions about what college you will attend, what your major will be, and what classes you plan to take can be overwhelming. Find someone who is not judgmental and is a good listener. A friend, family member, or teacher can serve as a sounding board to help you work through your thoughts, ideas, and problems.
- Try talking to someone who has also gone through similar stress. They will be able to empathize and offer advice that stems from personal experience.
- Stay away from negative and judgmental people. Choosing a career path can be stressful, and judgmental, negative people can make the situation worse. Try avoiding people who make judgments about your proposed college, major, or career choice. You should also stay away from people who are negative.
- For example, if your grandmother is constantly pressuring to attend her alma mater while talking negatively about the school you really want to attend, you should try to limit conversations with her about your college choice.
- Practice self-care. It is important that you take care of yourself while preparing for college. Pay attention to what you eat, and make sure you are properly nourished. You should also make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Regular exercise should also be a part of your life.
- Take time for a relaxing activity each week like walking on a local trail, taking a long bath, or reading a novel.
EditExploring Different Career Paths
- Audit a college course. While you are in high school, try auditing a college course or taking a college course at a local community college. This will help you get a feel for the coursework associated with a particular major and career path. Gaining this understanding can help alleviate stress associated with choosing a career path. It can also help solidify or change your decision about a career path.
- You can also take high school electives related to your intended major whenever possible.
- Interview a college student. Take an afternoon to sit down with a current college student and talk with them about their experience. Ask them questions about when they chose their major, what their coursework is like, and how they managed stress while preparing for college.
- Shadow a professional. If you have an interest in a particular career path, ask a professional in that field if you can shadow them at work for a day. This will give you an idea of their day-to-day job. Watching a professional in action can help you stress less about whether your career choice is the right one for you.
- Talk to your parents about identifying friends or family members with a career in a field that interests you.
- Ask your parents or other adults to introduce you to these professionals.