Choosing your undergraduate degree is an important decision and one that will play a defining role in where your future career takes you. Whether you are a new college student or a returning student, it’s not always easy to determine which degree program is going to be the right fit or provide the best opportunities for you.
That’s why we’ve created a five-step guide to help you in making the right choice. Even if you’re not sure what career you want to pursue, this guide provides you with the important questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a degree program.
1. Make a list of your career interests
It’s important to think about what you will want out of your future career when you are deciding on a degree program. For example, do you prefer to work in a hands-on, fast-paced environment? Nursing might be a good fit for you. Are you an analytical thinker and enjoy problem-solving? You might be interested in careers in technology, such as computer networking.
It’s OK to have general answers to these questions. You don’t have to decide exactly what you want to do right off the bat. Thinking about these topics will help you eliminate degrees or careers that you aren’t interested in and choose a degree that will put you on a path that works best for you.
2. Consider degrees in high-growth fields
After you have identified a few fields or concentrations that you are interested in, do some research about each field and look for where there is the most future opportunity. Let those insights inform your degree decision.
High growth fields offer stable employment and competitive pay. If you know that you want to pursue a technology career, for example, a degree in cybersecurity can help prepare you for some of the most in-demand technology jobs of the future.
3. Determine the type of degree program you need
Your career goals will also help you determine the type of degree to pursue. A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for many entry-level roles. Even if a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for the roles you want to pursue, it is often seen as a differentiator and can give you a competitive edge over your peers in the workforce. Associate degree programs are shorter than bachelor’s degree programs and are beneficial if you are looking to launch a new career or expand your career opportunities in a relatively short period of time. However, graduates with an associate degree often have to pursue a bachelor’s degree if they wish to advance to leadership or management roles.
4. Investigate online vs. on-campus degree options
It’s easier than ever to find a degree program that allows you to balance school with the other important parts of your life. Many universities offer flexible learning options, such as night courses and full or partial online degree programs so you can earn your degree on your own schedule. Researching these options is another important part of your degree selection. Choose a school where you know you will be supported, and the program that will best position you for success.
5. Research your path to an advanced degree
It’s smart to choose a degree that has a clear path to a graduate program, so you can continue advancing your education and growing in your career. Some programs even offer dual-credit options, allowing you to work toward your master’s degree while enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. Many professionals choose to pursue their master’s degrees in order to gain the leadership skills and industry knowledge required to advance to management roles.