How to Choose the Right College Degree for You

We’re more likely to thrive at things we are passionate about doing, so choosing a career path that is similar to our passion, will help set the stage for a better and more fulfilling career. However, there are so many career options to choose from, and things can become overwhelming as you try to make the best selection.

Determining your career path is important, so setting time aside to plan your career goals and find out what is needed, as well as searching for the best college degree that suits your needs, are necessary steps to take, to get you into your dream job. This week, we will review the steps to take to help you make these important decisions and weigh your thoughts as you go.

Set Your Career Goals

The first step is to figure out exactly what your career goals are. You may have a goal in mind, like starting a job as a medical practitioner, or you may need further guidance to help you figure things out. For the undecided, here are some questions to help create your own career goals, personalized just for you.

  • Why do you want to start a new career? Think about what is driving your passion for a career in the specific field you’ve chosen. Are you motivated by your family and friends? Do you want to improve your lifestyle or way of living for yourself or your family? Are you naturally self-motivated and driven? Or perhaps, there are other reasons?
  • What are you looking for in a new career? To determine goals that fit you, it is important to note what you want from your career path. Do you want a higher salary and better job security? Do you need more a flexible time frame to work and enjoy life? Are you motivated to be in a field where you get to help others? Would you prefer work at home options?
  • What areas are you interested in? Do you already possess a specific talent that will help you on your career path? Understanding your interests will help you get clear on what you will excel at doing. Perhaps you are tech-savvy? Or do you prefer interactions and conversing with others? Whatever your choice, choose something that you are naturally good at doing.
  • Do you plan to continue advancing your career? Planning how you will reach your desired career goals will help you advance in the future. For example, you can start with entry-level roles and then work your way up the ladder.
  • Where do you want to be in five years? You now have a clear idea of where you currently stand. Thinking about where you want to go will help you create a vision for where you would like to be in the long run. Whether it is a new car, a dream home, or the perfect vacation, creating those visuals will continue to spark your interest along the way.

Once you are finished jotting down your answers, you should be on the right track to creating a future you would like for yourself. Always remember that career goals should be SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Check out this example of a SMART career goal: I want to start a career as a medical assistant in East Liverpool within two years.

Determine Your Needs

So, you’ve successfully determined your goals, and it’s time to figure out what is needed to achieve them. Every career field is different and requires different types of training and degrees to help you meet your goals.

For this step, take a look at the job descriptions for the career you are interested in pursuing. If you want to become a medical assistant, look at the current vacancies within your city for this role. What educational background do they require? Will you need a license or other certification? Do they require previous experience?  Once you have checked out some of the job descriptions and requirements, make a list of things that stood out. The list of educational backgrounds, certifications or licenses, and prior experience is exactly what you need to qualify for the job.

Although it is important to make note of the credentials needed, it is equally important to know what path works best for you. Here are some additional questions to help you figure this out.

  • What is your learning style? We all grasp information in different ways and the way we best retain this information identifies our specific learning style. Some people learn better when they hear a topic, and others learn more when they are reading in a quiet space. There are also people who learn better with the practical approach of physically completing a task themselves. Finding your learning style will help improve your college degree and career training choices.
  • What is your personality type? Personality traits also impact how we retain information. Think about taking a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. This can help you learn more about yourself and help you as you work toward reaching your career goals.

You now have the necessary checklist to evaluate the variety of career training programs and college degrees needed for your new career.

Research College Degree Options

Exploring the various college degree and training options is the next step now that you know what you need from a program. Research the many options available and choose the one that best suits your needs. In order to determine the best option, you need to assess programs that will help you meet your career goals and requirements.

  • Does the program train you for the specific job you want? Remember that list you made based on what employers are looking for in their job descriptions? Here is where it comes in handy. Use the list and compare it with the training programs you are evaluating. Does it provide you with the knowledge and skills required? Does it include certification preparation? Does the length of the program work with your career goals?
  • Is the school aligned with your needs? The next step is to determine if the college will be the best institution to meet your needs. Here are a few questions that you can ask. Is there a dedicated admissions advisor that will help guide you in the application process? Are there resources such as financial aid or grant opportunities? Does the style of teaching align with your learning style? Does the school offer personalized instruction?
  • What support is offered to students? Finally, you need find out how the school will support you as a student, once you have completed your career training, and if you require future assistance. There are a few questions to ask. Do students receive additional help if needed? Are there any resources that will continue to be offered even after graduating? Are there career services that will help students get a job once they complete their program?

As you go through the options, weigh the pros and cons by creating a list that will help you decide. Once you have completed the evaluation for your college degree options, you can confidently select the one that will provide you a more successful path to your career goals.

Get Started Today

You’re all set with your career goals, your specific needs, and your chosen college degree program, so you’re ready to get started! If you want to start an exciting new career in healthcare or business, Ohio Valley College of Technology may be the perfect choice for you. We offer career-focused college degrees in Nursing, LPN to RN Bridge, Medical Assisting, Dental Assisting, Medical Office Administration, and Business Administration.

Contact us at (330) 385-1070 or request information today and one of our friendly admissions advisors will help create a career plan designed just for you!