column graphic money and happiness

I want to confront everyone who gave me advice on which college path to take.

Professors, parents and adults often advertise certain majors that are high-paying and will result in jobs with guaranteed success. Cue the typical suggestion to become a doctor, lawyer, or someone in the emerging fields of computer science and economics — these are all the careers I previously considered.

I dreamt of a realm of jobs in these successful areas. My goal was to put my years of education into financial compensation. It is not often that the major or career that will make individuals the happiest is the one best advertised. I tried to search online for the careers that were ranked the highest on the scale of simple happiness in the workplace, but it seemed every site I found had inconsistent results.

Engineers ranked at the top on some of these “happiness lists,” though I know I would not thrive around calculus and construction all day. Some other lists featured artists and authors, and I completely agreed with those rankings. I think this suggests that someone’s happiness in their field is determined by their passion for the subject and workplace setting.

The hobbies I’ve always enjoyed, like art and writing were always that — just hobbies. I found that the field of communications could actually combine these two hobbies into a career, and I started to dream of enjoyment rather than success.

Now in my second year of college, I couldn’t imagine being halfway through a degree in a field I have no passion for. College work can be completely overwhelming — dragging yourself through a 15-credit life in a major you don’t enjoy may pay off financially, but sacrificing your happiness is not worth it.


I believe every college at Penn State has the resources for you to find success. From career guidance to internship opportunities and college clubs, getting involved in your major-specific clubs is the key to getting to the career and spot you desire.

If you are still unsure about what you want to pursue, minors and double majors can help balance your skills. Studying multiple topics can sometimes show you that what you want to do isn’t always what you are encouraged to do.

Choosing an area of study is very difficult for any 18-year-old questioning their future. I would suggest going to those you trust and various “day in the life” videos of the career you dream to pursue.

I also made a point to contact those with my dream job for advice. I went on LinkedIn, found Penn State alumni in my field, and found that many of them wished they had pursued other majors, minors or different involvements.

Now, achieving your dream career route despite all those who may say the career “isn’t employable” involves a certain level of drive and determination. Success is guaranteed by determination, and those with a goal in their heads will overcome the obstacles to get there.

The time for self-discovery and planning the plans goes by fast. With this spring semester getting cut short, I am learning that even harder. I love to talk about the field I am studying, the classes I am taking and my future goals as a creator. I hope every college student gets to do the same.

Now that I’m practically a motivational Ted Talk speaker, I hope every incoming student finds the major they love — but don’t worry, gen-eds are always there to fill your schedule in the meantime.


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