Damn, man, I wish I’d come across outlawstudent.com back in high school.
Better late than never, Zach!
Here’s my elaborate dilemma:
I’m a senior at Alfred University. I have 36k in student loan debt (before interest), assuming I graduate in the spring.
Welcome to the wonderful world of student loan debt – where no matter how old you are or how successful you become, you’ll always be a few hundred bucks lighter than you should be each month!
What’s worse, I still don’t know what I want to do. I changed my original major of communications to marketing, thinking I could land a well-paying job while still writing and thinking creatively…but I’m now disgusted with marketing. My real passions are ethics, philosophy, psychology, theology, etc–but the prospects of these fields look shaky. As I’ve learned through a few internships, the life of a marketing student is much different than the life of an employee with a marketing degree. I’m sure the contrast is even more evident in a field like psychology.
You mean you’ve come this far and still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Man – you sound like, well, like about half of all college students I have ever encountered – and an even higher percentage of post college workers!
I am, however, confident in my academic ability. My brother is a mechanical engineer at Cornell, and in many ways I think I was dealt his math/science brain except focused on the social sciences. I have a 3.8, 2030 SATs. And while I feel understimulated in marketing, I’m already buried in debt and I feel like time is running out.
Should I just graduate and see if I can stomach the marketing rat race and pay off my debt? Or should I rack up another couple of years’ debt to earn a more promising and lucrative degree, say, accounting? Or even start over in engineering?
I have pretty much given up on “get paid to do what you enjoy.” It seems like math-intensive fields are the only ones that pay well. Maybe I should independently study philosophy as a hobby and do what makes financial sense for my career now…
I just wish that when I abandoned English I had gone all the way to accounting instead of riding the fence with marketing which I now hate anyway.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE! -Zach
These types of submissions are always a bit tougher for me. Should I hate my job but make money, or should I scrap everything that I have done up to this point in school (except for the debt that came with it) and follow my dreams so that I will love what I do?
Of course, standard answer would be to do what makes you happy and, if you’re truly passionate about it, you will find a way to make a comfortable living doing it. That’s what I did, and that’s what I hope everyone else can do as well.
But I am also a realist and I know that not everyone gets to do exactly what they want to do and make a living at it. I have a young son who wants to be an artist when he grows up. It’s all he talks about. I have no problem with that whatsoever – and I constantly encourage him to draw, paint, etc. However, unless a LOT changes between now and when he gets older, and unless he TOTALLY missed my lack-of-any-artistic-ability-whatsoever genetic makeup, I don’t think his dream will come true (I know – art is a very wide field, and that’s what I tell him, but he specifically wants to be a painter). I hope I am wrong.
In your case, Zach, it sounds like you really haven’t settled in on a dream career yet, and for that reason, I wouldn’t encourage you to drop everything and start over right now. If you came to me and said that you were certain you wanted to be a psychologist, I might have told you to go for it. But as it is, you just aren’t sure yet, and I could see you digging yourself an even deeper hole if you were to scrap your current path, start down another and eventually find out that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either.
That’s not to say that you are stuck doing something you hate for the rest of your life. Make some money while you find out what you really want to do in your spare time. Then, once you have a little cash, go for that dream. Just make sure beforehand that it’s truly what you want to do. It’s a rough life if you are constantly looking for that greener grass and never quite finding it.
What do you guys think? Should Zach suck it up and use his marketing degree or continue in debt and school to do something else?