Friday, July 10, 2009

Skip the 10-Year Plan

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luke 14:28

Now that you're convinced to go to college, it's not enough just to show up for a few years at the college campus.

I have a friend who, as is common among college students, is on the "Ten-Year Plan". This is the plan where a student changes their major (or gets D's) so many times, that it takes far more than four years to graduate. As he finally, hopefully, approaches graduation (it will only have actually been six or seven years), I asked him what he would do differently.

"I wouldn't change my major."

As it turned out, his final major is identical to his original major. A few times throughout his college work, he decided he didn't like his major, and changed to a different one - sometimes a very different major. As one major proved difficult, he moved to an easier one, but then realized he'd have no good career options, so he moved to a more lucrative easy one. He then discovered that he hated it - and moved back to an interesting difficult major.

This reminded me of a decision that I made when I first started college, that turned out very well. I had about six different majors that I was considering. After speaking to people from the different departments, I still couldn't decide which was best, so I picked a major based on a few criteria:
  1. It required many classes that were also required by other majors I was interested in.
  2. It could result in a good career, with which I could support a family, with just a Bachelor's degree.
  3. It could lead to a variety of Master's Degrees.
  4. It sounded like it would be interesting, and challenging.
I then decided to finish that degree no matter what (well, almost no matter what). Then, if I had decided by then that I hated the degree, I would go on to get a Master's Degree in something I actually liked. Then, I could take as long as I wanted on the Master's Degree - if it didn't work out, at least I'd have a Bachelor's degree and be able to find a good job if I needed it.

Things did not, as usual, turn out quite as expected. Once I finished the degree that I chose, I was offered a very good job, and am now just working on a Master's Degree part-time. Many of my friends, though, are still in school and having difficulty supporting their families, since they have taken so long to graduate. I have a lot of freedom, thanks to having finished what I started.

I certainly made (and will probably continue to make) various mistakes in my educational choices - but I'll write about those later.

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