T Nation

The rest of my life

Hey folks, I’m going to be a senior in high school and I’m constantly stressed over what I’m going to do after I graduate. I’m well qualified to get into most any college I want, but I have no idea what to study. I eventually want a career with a great deal of freedom and at least decent pay. I have no idea what sort of career would afford me that. I also have no idea what field I’m going into. It turns out being well-rounded can be a sort of curse, as I have no overriding interests. Any, absolutely any suggestions for a career or course of study would be appreciated.


Join the millitary. That will give you 3 or four years to figure out what you want to do. You will have money for your six meals a day and supplements. You can also party your ass off without your parents getting on your case. After your enlistment you will have money for college

RELAX. the average American will change their careers 8 times. The chances of you winding up in a job related to your major aren’t very high. Most people have no idea what they want to do at your age, that’s what college is for, to figure things out for yourself without all sorts of pressure from people around you. Of course, that may explain why I took a little bit longer to finish.

Go to a good college and take a “well-rounded” course. Often when people get to college they discover interests that they didn’t know they had, or discover that what they thought they wanted to do really isn’t where their strengths are after all. If you take a variety of different courses in different disciplines you should find something that you may want to pursue further. Often it takes a degree or two from college to settle into an interest or career. Sadly, nobody can pick it for you. You will have to do that yourself. Perhaps your resource/student service department at your high school can help you in your final year. There are a number of surveys and tests people can take to discover where their strengths and interests lie. From these, a variety of suggested career paths can be determined. If anything, they are quite interesting and can give you an idea or two that you haven’t thought of. Use the resources available to you this final year and take the time to talk to many different people in many different careers. That should give you some direction. Draw on what you know your strengths are–not just academic ones. Or, just keep on going to school and become a professor. There’s a great need for professors these days!

I’m with PVT Pile, join the military don’t matter which branch . They pretty much have all the same options though you may have to see a recruiter for each branch of service. The Army has a bonus program depending on job specialty of up to $20 grand pretty sure that the rest of the services have the same thing.
Take the test find out what you have an aptitude for check into it. If you can, find a veteran or some one who has been in to go with you. The military will help pay your way through college. Every dollar you put in they will match with 2.The Army has over 200 different job skills available,with training after 9 weeks of basic training from 4 weeks long to 52 weeks long.Check out GoArmy.com of course you ain’t a real T-man unless your Airborne Ranger EOD… you get to blow things up and the same time take things apart so they don’t blow anything up. The ultimate rush ! Up side live like everyday will be your last especially when it come to getting laid women like it. Downside its hard to get life
insurance when they ask what your job is. Good luck pal.

I must agree with most of the postings so far, join the military. As an ex-soldier I had to say that (and personally I wish I had before I did college). Now some action steps for you.

  1. Get and read Empires of the Mind, by Dr. Dennis Waitley 2) If you choose to go the military route check out the military careers website and get and practice you military appitude tests. Get the most out of the military, they are famous for making cannon fodder out of young ones.
    Best of Luck.

Take control now. You have a head start on your peers because you realize there is more you need to know and you’re reaching out for answers. Don’t just drift along in life. Start talking to older people who are in college, new in the job market, or have had careers for years. Talk to career counselors, set goals for your life, and read some books that will help you achieve those goals.

From your post I gather you are somewhat inclined towards safety over adventure. If that is the case, and if it’s true that you could do well in a variety of fields, enter a field that is expanding (i.e. biotechnology or nanotechnology vs. railroads). You can also go into management and work in an expanding field. The key is to position yourself in a career field where there is money and you have potential to move up rather than in something dead.

Also, do something that you love. Money is nothing if you dread going in to work everyday. I work to live, not live to work. If you don’t know what you love, try new things, as many as you can handle, talk to all sorts of people, the truth, as they say, is out there.

Finally, if there is one thing I could tell every person about to graduate, LEARN TO MANAGE MONEY! Don’t put yourself in debt for anything that is not an appreciable asset (like a house). Live within your means. That way, when the storms of life hit (recession, medical, whatever) or you have to change jobs or get laid off, you’ll be in a position of power.

Always remember that knowledge is potential power, but not until you can apply it is it’s potential realized.


It sounds like almost everyone has given some great advice so I’ll be a little more specific. Read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. It is an excellent primer on money management and philosophy. Do something you love rather than something to make ends meet. I remember growing up with a stepdad who had horrible screaming fits in his sleep because he was so stressed out about his job. Warhorse gave great advice on goal setting, and since the Navy put me where I am today (#3 man in a growing business-all with only a high school education) I agree, only go in as an officer candidate and learn to fly, and they will pay your way through college. Serving your country and maybe seeing a few others will make you appreciate all the freedoms you have now, and God knows we need more people who appreciate this country and are willing to fight for it.

Find the people who are living the life you want to live (financially, family life, free time) and dig into their brains. You don’t necessarily have to do exactly what they’re doing (and in many cases it’s not possible), but apply the principals. First, you gotta own it. Second, you gotta take advantage of trends. Third, you gotta build a residual income. Fourth, you gotta be able to duplicate.

Go to college and just take the general education courses. You will eventually spark an interest on a particular field/course and eventually pursue it as a career. Talk to a counselor as they can also help. Be patient, it will come to you after all that’s what college is for, to learn about yourself.

You may want to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the books in that series. I wish I had them when I was 18… One thing to realize is
you must do what you love and enjoy life, don’t let any one discourage you or make up your mind for you. And take some lesson home with you at the end of every day. Ask yourself, what did life teach me today? This, in addition to a good education in college, the military or wherever, will really add to the joy of living. I’m 27 and I have good job with a major pharma company in research. I’m thinking of going back to law school for patent law…My point is, it’s never too late to switch gears so don’t worry about commiting.
Whatever you do, give it your best, but realize that opportunities are everywhere and situations change. You don’t have to commit to anything.

lesson 1.
in the end your life will be a collection of experiences, not your stuff, but an accumulation of experiences, so don’t let ‘stuff’ own you.

lesson 2.
find what you like to do w/o getting paid for it, then figure out a way to make money doing it.

lesson 3.
never trade the illusion of security in working for someone else (a job) for the certainty of insecurity working for yourself.

lesson 4.
health is everything, but sometimes you just got to say WTF, its time to party.

lesson 5.
when you finally do meet Mr. Death, do not go placidly into the night, but punch him hard and repeatedly in the throat with all you got.

Don’t do shit. Lay around the house till you are treatened with getting kicked out and then work at a pizza joint. The luckiest people in the world are the ones that don’t do shit, so if you want to be successful, don’t do shit.

Be a gynecologist. Great pay, and uh…perks. Unles your grandmom schedules a checkup, but hey, you could be one sick pup and like that too.

Go to college. Pick one out that just “feels” right. College is about 25% the things you learn in class and 75% what you learn just goint to college (how to work under deadlines, social poise, working in groups, etc). Get involved on campus, study abroad, and take a wide range of classes. In the end, get a degree that you find interesting. Remember, you can always go get your masters in something other than your undergrad degree. Look at me, I was a music major and decided to go to law school 6 months after I graduated. In the end, you’ll find something. The key is, you have to go. The longer you wait, the harder it is.

Theta Chi Guy’s got it right. Go to college. Everyone I know who’s gone agrees that it was, without question, the best time of their lives. Experiment, go places, meet people and have a lot of fun; just don’t take things too seriously… and you’ll figure it all out. There’s no timeline to determine what you want to do with your life, you’ve got your whole life to figure that out. Just find a general direction and see where it takes you. I’m 31 and still feel like I’m just getting started, even though I’ve been through a lot already. You can change careers at age 60 if you want. There are no rules to this.

A degree in philosophy (I have one) is like getting a degree in learning how to think. I reccomend getting one, as well as another in the area you’d want a career in…failing that, history or English (I have a degree in English as well) are fairly generic and the combination of the 2 degrees will give you many options for career choices.