Nontraditional Students - are you trying to decide what to take?

Decisions, decisions. That is what school is all about.

But not everyone has decided for sure what they really want when they go to school. I feel this is OK, and normal. "Regular", traditional students often have this problem. And also, nontraditional students sometimes have some trouble choosing a major or zeroing in on what interests them most too.

For some people (and I am including myself here), the choice of a major is a major TRAUMA. The reasons are many. Here are just a few:

1. The student may not think their first choice is interesting anymore. Facing untold years doing something they think may be frustrating, impossible, limiting or (shudder) even boring can give people pause.

2. The student might be interested in many different subjects, or at least two. It's hard to pick a subject or interest if you have not done a job in that field yet. You have to train first, and then experience the field.

3. The student may not really want to graduate. I met some people like this the first time I was in college. Sometimes it's just so much fun BEING in school, it's hard to really WANT to leave. The student may be used to school, and having never experienced having a job (or worse: HAVING experienced one or more bad jobs) staying in school can be the "choice" when actually it is a holding pattern because it's easier to just skate at school and not take the Job Plunge.

4. Money is often a factor - - the student has X many hours in a certain field that they THOUGHT they would want to study, but then they find out that something else interests them more. Some students can just add on to their debt, others (younger ones) can plead with parents to stay in school and finish in the chosen field or go on to graduate school. Others simply do not have this choice, especially nontraditional students, who may have obligations or family, plus jobs.

5. The student can second-guess him or herself and overthink. He or she can't really know how the job market will be, and can wonder if they are making a mistake, when actually they aren't. It is hard to know for sure how things will turn out.

So... how can students get around this problem of not knowing what they really want to do?

I don't think this problem can be entirely eliminated, but there are some things students can do to get a lead on what they like sooner. They can do Job Shadowing, which is experiencing the job through somebody actually IN that job, for one thing. They can also take some Aptitude Tests, which the school may offer. Also, they could sign up for apprenticeships or internships in the field they want to work in.

They can also use the "Pro vs. Con" sheet method, and put all the good things on one side they can think of, and also put the bad things on the other side and compare sides.

Another thing that some students do is take an entry course in every field they are interested in. Of course, this all depends on whether they have the time to do that, or can afford it. The good side of this is that sometimes a student can get so excited, and find out so much in this first entry course, that they can switch their major or field early, which doesn't really take so much longer than their first choice, if they are lucky.

Nontraditional students, how did you deal with this problem of not knowing what subject(s) to take? I know I selected two different subjects and did a traditional major and minor the first time in college. Trade School people could take two different subjects too possibly. And GED students getting ready for more classes could try job shadowing. 

Leave a comment - I want to hear from you!

Here are some more Nontrad links:
The Nontrad site and blog
Join Nontrads on Facebook
Nontrads on Yahoo, and
Nontrads on Twitter 

The sign art at the top of this blog is from the Microsoft Clipart Images pages.