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Choose Your Career Before Choosing Your College Degree

It’s the chicken-and-egg question of going back to college: Which comes first, choosing a career or choosing a college degree?

While there are pros and cons to both, many would agree it makes the most sense to choose a career before choosing a degree.


It’s a classic example of quality versus quantity. By choosing your career first, you’ll automatically narrow your degree choices to a select and relevant few.

So instead of combing through dozens of degree programs and their various details and requirements, pick your degree first and you’ll have just a handful (at most) from which to choose.

Here are five things you can do right now to pick your career—and, ultimately, your college degree:

  1. Take an online career quiz to explore your options. Most online quizzes lead you to a general career direction, which is a good starting point.
  1. Investigate job titles as well as the lifestyle that goes with it. For examples, Emergency Department physicians are notoriously famous for working long hours while dermatologists have high-demand practices that typically fit in a Monday-through-Friday workweek.
  1. Ask an expert for help with coaching you to a career decision. Career coaches and academic advisors have access to a variety of decision-making tools as well as practice advice that could help.
  1. Try something on for size. It’s virtually impossible to make a perfect pick for life so feel free to test the waters a bit. Volunteer in a similar capacity. Job shadow someone. Conduct an informational interview. Do whatever you need to get a really good idea of what the career you’re considering is really like.
  1. Find a degree program that makes sense. Do your homework. Don’t just look at the list of classes or find out who the instructor is; instead, really dig into the degree program specifics and find out what career opportunities exist for graduates and which in-demand skills you’ll learn through the curriculum.

Need more? Check out these additional resources:

Want to discuss career options, or college degrees that fit well with a specific career? Get in touch with us now! We'd love to talk with you.

Free Guide:
Where to Find Free Money to go Back to School
Learn how to get grants to cut college costs.