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How to Choose the Right College for Your Career

May 26, 2008
Most colleges offer the same wide range of degrees to choose from. This doesn't mean that you can simply pick any college that offers the degree you want. If you want to stand out from the crowd when you enter your chosen career, it would be wise to attend a college that is well known for excellence in that particular degree program.

A College's Reputation Matters. Many schools have a specialty. They might be nationally known for an excellent engineering program, or have received recognition for their journalism degree. When a school has a reputation like this, everyone in the field has usually heard of them. Whether they are students, teachers, or employers, they all have some knowledge about the college and its reputation.

This benefits you by helping you get a leg up, so to speak. Let's pretend you want to be an engineer. If you attend Colorado's School of Mines, which is well known as a top-notch engineering program, you are guaranteeing that pretty much every employer in the region will instantly assume you really know your stuff.

Many students enter college without really having a clue what they want to do when they grow up. Although high school guidance counselors usually say that this is fine, encouraging students to go to college now and decide what you want to do later, indecisiveness now can cost you a persuasive resume later on.

Oftentimes, students with undecided majors attend state universities that are chosen for their location, rather than the quality of a specific degree program. They might change their major several times before making a final decision. And even then, they might not have any clue what they want to do when they grow up.

Because students in this situation end up foregoing the advantage a great degree program can offer, the result is often a weak start to their career. Usually indecisiveness can be fixed if the students do a little research into careers that interest them. For students who are transitioning directly to college from high school, most public schools have access to excellent resources, including information on the different careers and literature on colleges nationwide.

Even returning students can find plenty of resources to help them make their decision. The U.S. Bureau of Labor provides descriptions and statistics for all different types of jobs in their Occupational Outlook Handbook, available at bureau's home page on the web. Googling prospective careers and visiting workplaces to see what people in those careers actually do all day are also good ideas.

Once you have done your research and chosen a career, you can begin to look at colleges. Remember, you want a school that will provide you with a high-quality education in your chosen field. The point is to be able to beat out the competition when you enter the job force after graduation. And with the right education from the right school, you will.
About the Author
Andy West is a writer for Knowledge Choice and You Next Choice.
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