T Nation

What to Do With Life

   I'm at a crossroad in life. I'm a junior in highschool, and taking the ACT soon. I want to, and am capable of going to college. I just have no idea what I want to do though. My only passions other then lifting are history, and econ. Between lifting, history, politics, writing and econ I don't see myself making much money to justify going to college for any of those things. I focus most of my papers (when I have a choice) on social issues, taxation, and various government activities. I have no idea what I want out of life, and because of that I'm considering 4 years in the corps for time to make up my mind.

and hell, I want to see the world.

Anyone got any stories to share, or advice to give?


Best advice I have is to speak with adults you trust about career choices.

There are literally hundreds of careers to choose from and the average person considers very few of them.....mostly out of ignorance. Some of the most important considerations have nothing to do with money!!

Frankly I was a complete idiot about choosing a career. Nobody offered advice...and I didn't seek it.



You're in Sheboygan right? Can you sell?

I spent too many years wasting my time in a management position before I realized I was good at selling.

My company is one of the highest growth organizations in the state of Wisconsin. Even our dickhead Governor, Jim Doyle, stated that we are his favorite company in the state...

My point is, go to college if you can and learn to sell along the way. I'd be willing to help you get in the door and work as an intern. The vast majority of our interns end up as full-time employees with loads of career opportunities ahead of them.

PM me if you want additional insight.


I started college wanting to be a journalist, then architect, ended up leaving after getting a minor in Christian theology. After that, became a bartender, then chef, then personal trainer. Now I'm studying infectious disease and literature, looking at med schools, and planning a sailing trip around the world.

And I'm only 24.

The point is, what you want to do will change. You don't need to pick one career and do it till you die. Use college as a chance to explore your interests and look for opportunities you never thought of.



Any of my friends who regretted career or college choices didn't know what they were getting into beforehand. Talk to people. Make time for this.

If you want to study x,y or z in college A, try to find someone (or more than one person) who studied x,y or z in college A, if possible find out what they're doing now after college.

As cr1404 suggests seek advice.


I'll shoot a pm your way in the next few days.


Right on...


i think i know someone who can help


What about teaching? You could be a teacher with any of those interests.

While college isn't for everyone, and I sometimes think overrated with it's importance, the experience of college is a great one.
Hell, I wish I could have stayed in college forever


see the world all you want but don't think there isn't money in economics degrees.
I am on an economics co-op job right now and it pays me more than my co-op with an insurance company did.
The research positions in govt and the fed alone should convince you of the viability issue. An added emphasis on the history of economics makes you better at understanding models and predicting outcomes, a skill that hard to come by and is recession proof.


I understand where your coming from. When I was looking at college I wanted to do whatever I could make a lot of money doing. So I choose engineering instead of history or music, things I really liked. I'm 6 years into engineering and its been pretty miserable. I marginally enjoy it, and I've really reached a point where I realize how stupid it was to pick a career based on the possible pay check.

Think about what you really love, and do that, don't pick purely based on money, you won't be happy, and I'm seeing more and more that that means a lot more in the end.


Still working on my World's Strongest Porn Star dream.

Just another 1200 pounds on my total and an additional 3 inches to go!


You're making it hard to resist it. I really, really love econ and history.


Dude. You have two interests you're excited about. Pursue them. You have a chance to excel at something that gets you off, or you can half ass something you're not passionate about. Do what you want to do, and be damn good at it.

I'm not much for that touchy feely BS, but I'd rather spend my life doing something that's exciting for me.


Oh, and study abroad for a year or semester. I wish I had done that during undergrad.


Don't worry about careers right now. It sounds like you have a good handle on what you want to study, and I think economics or political science would be a good fit for you.

Once in college there's tons of shit you can do to see the world. You can study abroad (or two) as some have suggested, or you can do I what I did, and go on the Washington Semester program which was sick. Basically it's a semester at American University doing seminars and going to guest lectures with people from various fields in Washington. The most notable speaker we had was Justice Alito, but we also heard from tons of people who made careers out of an interest in economics, government, or social issues.

Ultimately, you can do whatever the fuck you want. My brother spent a few years teaching english abroad after college and he had a blast. He now works in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I think it will be a long time before he settles back into the States.

My advice to you re: college would be to take full advantage of everything. Talk to your professors and build relationships with them. Actively seek out transfer programs like study abroad or Washington Semester. Honestly, I would be wary of the using the Corps as a way to kill time while you decide. If you make a mistake enrolling in college you can bail and only be out some money. Make a mistake entering the Corps and you're still stuck there.

I'm going to second Brant Drake's advice:
College is a great way to expose yourself to things you never new about, and it's a great way to explore the world. There's so much out there that a junior in high school is probably better off without having a career in mind already.


Become a business major.

The classes are easy, and your GPA will be high enough to switch into anything else you decide you might want to try.

Business degrees are a jack of all trades, if your not sure what to major in, major in business.


There is a lot good advice in this thread. But I am going to advise against blindly choosing "what you love". In hindsight, I was a stupid fool for choosing "what I love".

The reason is simple, you may be doing it for the next 40 years. And what you value in 10-15 years will be different than what you value today.

There is nothing like reaching the age of 35 and going....damn I have to spend 30 more years in this office....doing this. Ugh.

Only 6% of Americans say they love their jobs. The odd are stacked against you. Ask for genuine advice from people you trust. Tell them to be blunt with you. Do they love their job? If not, what don't they like about it? What jobs appear more attractive now that they are older and wiser? What makes those jobs attractive (chances are good it's not the money)?


When I was a junior I definitely had no clue what I wanted to do when I grew up. I'd advise going to college since it allows you to explore a lot of things.

You need to do research on anything before you jump into it and decide that's what you want to do. Just because you love something, like history, doesn't mean you should pursue a career in that. A lot of people take the common advice that you should always just study what you love - really you should always take into account a bigger picture, such as whether or not you will actually be able to get a job with what you love.

I was lucky that while most people were pounding into my head that i should just pursue my favorite interests, I also had my parents who emphasized financial stability. Maybe i'm not in my absolute top career choice but the money I make more than makes up for it, especially in this down economy where if I had majored in my first choice I almost certainly would be unemployed.

The key, unless you know EXACTLY what you want to do right now, is to give yourself a lot of future flexibility. Like the person above me said, what you love now is probably not what you're going to love in 10 years. Put yourself in a situation where you might be able to move things around if you change your mind. That's another reason I went for a more high-paying field - it gives me flexibility so i could save up and go back to college for something else if I wanted to.


I think you should definitely make time to travel, assuming you have the time and finances to do it. You will learn alot about life, society, people, and most importantly, yourself during your voyages.

You are young and its easier now when you don't have a family, mortgage, or career to make it more challenging. I applaud you for thinking on a grander scale than your average teenager, who is popping zits and trying to get laid.