Dear Dr. Wallace:

Currently, I’m in the 12th grade and planning on attending a major Southeastern university after I graduate from high school.

My problem is I don’t know what to major in because I’m not sure what I want to do once I start working. My parents keep pressuring me to enter into the field of law, but I’m not sure I want to be a lawyer. Is it necessary to know what you want to do for employment before going to college? There certainly seems to be a lot to think about, and the one thing I know for sure at this point is that I definitely don’t have everything figured out yet.

— Under Pressure,

via email

Dear Under Pressure: Very few college freshmen know exact what career path they may ultimately want to pursue, and even those who believe they do actually often wind up changing their minds. Part of the point of college is to learn enough about a variety of diverse subjects so that a student can make an informed career choice after sampling a variety of classes and subjects.

Think of it this way: When you first listened to music, you likely found some songs and artists you enjoyed right away. But over time, as you became exposed to more and more new music, your tastes in music likely changed and evolved. Finding an engaging and fulfilling career path has many such similarities.

Indeed, there is no rush to make this important decision. Flexibility, a keen interest in a range of subjects and an opportunity to obtain some broad knowledge will serve you well, no matter what profession you end up choosing. What you need to do is to get to know your own mind and heart. What do you value? What type of work interests and challenges you? What kind of difference do you want to make in the world with your life and your career?

Give these questions some time for honest evaluations and soul searching. Do ask several of your friends what their career plans are and why. Also engage your favorite teacher, professor and counselors in similar discussions. Some of the people in your life may provide you good suggestions to consider based upon your unique skill sets, personality and aptitudes.

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