I got my ASVAB results yesterday and I had a 75 on the test. My highest scores were in math and science, but the general graph of my grades for each subject was correlating to be pretty even with each other. I'm still at wits end about what I want to do for college so I'll give you decent description about how I am.
My current status, strengths, and weaknesses?
My grades are really decent with A's and B's. I'm ranked 126 out of 687 seniors with a 92.137 GPA. I'm very punctual and respectful to my classmates and teachers. I took the SAT twice and ACT once with average scorings and have already been accepted by UTSA. I took a tour of the main campus of UTSA while having FAFSA as one of the last things on my list to complete. My work ethic is slightly above average, I would say, which is enough to separate me from the average person. My favorite subjects are social studies which are extremely easy for me. English/Literature has to be my least favorite of the subjects. I'm ok in math and science, but sometimes I can really struggle. I'm really not sure how computers work with all of that technical stuff. My communication skills are not the best but I can manage somewhat. I work best in small groups (groups of 3 max) as opposed to larger ones. I never joined any extracurricular activities/groups and not in any sports.
What are my interests, feelings, and attitudes?
4-5 years just to get a bachelor's degree seems like a lot of time. I don't want a job that requires me to wear a suit and would much prefer to remain casual. I like to draw on rare occasions and I'm not too shabby at it since I won the art fest in the 8th grade. Family is pressuring me to go for anything to do with engineering, medical, computers, etc.. which is basically anything that will pay a lot of money. Family is also stressing that the arts are not a good field to choose as well as ones with a high population of people like business which gives me few choices. I really want to make sure I'm choosing worth the cost of college and make me content with all the work I spent getting it. I've never had a chance to be feminine and it'd be really nice if I had the courage to express it some day. It'd be great if sometime during college I got a boyfriend. If not, making at least 1 friend would be really nice.
I apologize for the lack of organization of my thoughts, but I just had to get that off my mind. There is still much confusion about what I want to do and there are unrelated things that I want to achieve.
Any and all advice is welcome. :)
A university education is usually worth the time and money from a strictly financial perspective. This depends on the value of the degree, the outlook for the occupations it's associated with, and how you intend to pay for your education. If you're taking on student loans, your income and employment prospects upon graduation are vitally important.
In other words, if you're borrowing big money, choosing a major that makes you happy versus one that makes you money is probably the most important decision you'll make about college. College is an investment. The return on investment matters. How much does it matter? Consider this: according to a survey Pew just released about the value of college, about 40% of those with majors in social sciences, liberal arts and education end up working in fields where the degree has little or no relation at all.
Factoring in the 'happiness' index: consider what would happen if you got a degree in something you loved, but didn't have much of a payday ahead. Say, fine arts. You'll have a great time earning the degree, but what happens when you graduate? It's not hard to imagine a scenario when you end up living with Mom and Dad and working as a waiter to pay back a $30,000 student loan. What would that do your happiness index?
Now consider the reverse. Say you chose a degree you are neutral about, but has a good payday ahead, like petroleum engineering. The job is in such demand that after ten years you'd be looking at an annual salary of $155,000, even with your $30,000 student loan. You can go anywhere, live anywhere, and save all the extra coin to finance other interests. What would that do to your happiness index?
I suppose the answer depends on the person. My grandmother (who was quite well off) used to say Gallup, money can't buy happiness, but trust me, this is the way you want to be unhappy.
Now, I'm not suggesting you study something you don't like, strictly for the money. I'm only pointing out part of your decision-making should be an effort to balance these two interests over the longer term.
All dollars and cents aside, the major you choose doesn't have to be the greatest source of enjoyment you have in college, either. Student life is vital for picking up that slack, particularly in the areas of personal growth and experience you mentioned. It seems UTSA has you covered in more ways than one. Sending an email to inquire about these aspects of campus living should be part of your consideration for attending any school, given how important it could be to you. Are they small groups that aren't that active or bigger groups that are very active? The more folks you meet with like-minded interests, the more chances you have to make friends (or perhaps more than friendship) with good, smart people who understand and accept you.
In short, my advice is weigh the cost versus the value of the degree, while factoring in the kind of life you'll lead as a student while earning it.
If you can, then STEM. Engineering is a very good field, you will never be unemployed, especially within mechanical or electrical engineering.
If you don't want to do STEM then do business with a focus on economics, finance, and accounting. There you will get the tools to do a wide variety of jobs, everything from analysis to auditing to administration to consulting to... whatever floats your boat.
Do you want to go straight into college? You don't have to get a degree, but I'll tell you right now, life without one sucks. I've been living it for the past 10 years and hopefully I'll be able to get mine here in the next 3.
My advice is not to figure out what you are good at. Use that as a general guideline, but don't think it's all important. Instead, figure out what you are passionate about. Whatever it is that you are going to do, you are going to have to keep striving to be better at it. There's going to be competition and it's likely that the tools you use or the parameters of your career will change with time, so you are going to have to stay on the ball. The key to that is to be passionate about it, because if you are passionate about it, then you'll be devoted to it, and anyone who is devoted to what they do will become great at it.
Also, there's a good portion of people who don't have a job related to their degree. The exception being is if you are in a technical field like medicine, engineering, or computer science or the like. Then regardless you may decide that whatever you are doing isn't for you. After all, people change. One of my good friends got a master's degree in anthropology, two years later she decided she really wanted to be a nurse and just finished her nursing degree last semester. Another friend of mine got a pre-law degree some years ago and then decided she wanted to be a paramedic. She just finished paramedic school a few weeks ago.
Take a look at different degree programs at different colleges to see what classes you will be taking. If it sounds like something you'd like then it's probably for you. If not... well, lets just say that the less you like the classes then the more you are going to struggle with it, which will have adverse effects on your GPA and willingness to continue. For myself, civil engineering has classes in fluid dynamics and soil mechanics. I took one look and thought that was awesome!
Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which Gallup mentioned and I'm reiterating because it's super useful and I wish someone would have told me about it when I was a senior). Start clicking around. It will give you median pay, projected growth, degree levels, what you would be doing in that field and more. For instance, here's what I'm working towards, and maybe one day, this. Figuring out what you want to do isn't something that happens overnight, unless you've known since you were 4 that you wanted to be an astronaut. Take some time and do some research, but don't take too long. I'm finally back in school 10 years later, and I regret that I couldn't figure it out ahead of time. While I got a lot of experience in a good many things during that time, I feel that a good portion of that time was just wasted going in the wrong direction.
Like Belle said, getting a job in a high skill trade is in many ways rewarding and often overlooked in the rush to college. It could be the way to go for you and it's generally more economical.
But I'll warn you right now, knowing what you want to do is just the first step, the hard part is figuring out how to get there. And staying focused. That's hard for me.
While pursuing a passion would be nice, remember that you actually have to be employed. And you have to be employed for at least 40 years, perhaps closer to 50, doing something you can do for 40.50 years without getting bored. If you choose to pursue a passion you have to become exceedingly good at it if it isn't an immediate money maker such as STEM or business (presuming you prefer a middle class life style, or higher).
It's a big choice. I love history, I wish I could have taken a degree in it. It wouldn't be a problem for me getting a doctorate in it if I went for it. However, I'd be stuck with very few employment options, teacher or professor. My second choice was pol.sci, same story. I chose a business econ and have a very rewarding job which I love (after a few other and less happy places), which isn't bad at my age.
The issue of there being so many choices makes it that much harder to choose from. Also, I never had a job before as well as being actively involved in anything.
A systematic approach may help.
You mentioned 'social studies' as being extremely easy for you, so you might start by examining degree programs in the social sciences; Anthropology, Communication, Criminology, Cultural studies, Economics, Education, Environment, History, Human geography, International relations, Internet, Law, Linguistics, Media, Politics, Psychology, Social psychology, Social work, and Sociology.
For each major:
1. Do a Google search and get a list of related occupations.
2. Look up each occupation in the OOH and find things like:
Expected Occupational Growth Rate
Expected Entry-Level Pay
Expected Mid-Career Pay
3. Rank the occupations based on your level of interest and on the other criteria. Lend extra weight to the ones with higher pay and better employment outlooks.
4. Do additional research (read books and periodicals) about the jobs you're most interested in.
If you've done that kind of homework by the time you're entering college, you'll be in fine shape. At the very least you'll have eliminated some of the guesswork and can make informed choices (which are the best choices).
Remember also, that your first year of college is mainly about '101' classes, which are introductory-level courses you have to take no matter what your major. You get to choose some elective courses, which you can use to 'test out' certain subjects. Remember, you can enter college as an undeclared major, then declare a major once you've had a taste of it. But it would be best to arrive with some idea of what you're interested in.
My sister's situation shows me what I don't want to happen to me in the future. She never really was the type to get involved or even go outside of her comfort zone and has already graduated from college. She has a B.A. degree in English Communications and works at the same place my mom works as well as living at home with us. She's recently turned 27 and it's still not clear when she'll be able to have enough money to move out on her own. She isn't even working in the field that she went for and I really don't want to end up like her. This is why I'm really hoping that college will be a good change for me to bloom, if not, well... I'm screwed. That's all I have to say about that. :/
This resembles one of two scenarios from the 'happiness index' I mentioned earlier. The other scenario-- a big payday in a relevant but less exciting job field-- may have done your sister's happiness index a bit more good (during the nine years between where she is and where you are now in your lives).
Arm yourself with the knowledge of what your choices in education will probably get you in the future. Do that and you don't have to leave quite so much to hope. You have the ability and intelligence to succeed at whatever you put your mind to. Trust yourself. Your first step is the hardest one (but still a good one) when you have so many choices: deciding what you want.