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Ask the Experts: Career Planning

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Question how can i choose the right career. i am attracted to the medical field but i am also drawn to cosmetology. i want a good paying job but i also want to wake up in the morning and have the urge to actually go and enjoy my job. i want a job that allows me to have a family. i am stuck between a Physical Therapist, Dental Assistant, Radiology Tech. and a cosmetologist. i dont know what to choose - Vanessa

AnswerWe admire greatly your desire to find the occupation or career that you will enjoy and thus become committed to and passionate about. This is what makes for a healthy, successful lifetime of work. All of the areas of interest you mention fall into the category of the helping professions and involve direct contact with individuals. Is this your conscious thought and goal? All of the areas also involve various levels of scientific knowledge. Do you enjoy the sciences and math among your school courses? And all require good physical dexterity and practical, literally hands-on, skills. If you can respond positively to these questions, then you are very likely to be a success in any of the careers you are considering.

How do you decide which particular career? You should talk with working professionals in all the areas and ask them what their work is like: how do they actually carry on their work; what training is essential; what do they like about their work; how demanding or stressful is their day; can they balance their career with family responsibilities; how did they train for their career?

 

Question is it the right choice to apply for a military academy even though you are underqualified at the time but you have your senior year to meet the qualifications - Lemount

AnswerIf that is your major interest, and you have the necessary nominations in place for an academy, it is fine to apply. You should round out your list with less selective institutions, perhaps considering an ROTC program as a close competitor to the academies. You might win an ROTC scholarship to help fund your education. Finally, if you are not admitted to an academy, you could attend a post-graduate year sponsored or recommended by one of the academies in order to fulfill the remainder of your requirements prior to reapplying after an additional year of high school.

 

Question I need some help, I am 21 years old and am ready to go back to school. I don't want to go back to school until I decide what I will be good at. I believe there are tests a person can take to help them out a little. - Alicia

AnswerBecause you are 21 years old, we have to assume that you have had a number of personal and work experiences since leaving high school. A good starting point in deciding what you might want to study in college and prepare for a career is to analyze very thoughtfully what particular skills you put to use in working. Were you adept at working with people, or numbers, or sales, and so forth? What subjects in high school or activities since graduating have had the most appeal for you? You should make a list of the activities you enjoy, the subjects you like to read about or discuss, and the academic skills you displayed in high school.

There several interest and career tests you can take that will help you highlight personal preferences and interests that can relate to specific careers. Most notable are the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type tests. They are not actually tests, but rather surveys that allow you to respond to a myriad of questions with your preferences. Keep in mind that most students attend college in order to explore various subjects in order to uncover their special interests and strengths. You should not feel that you have to know what your precise field of study will be prior to enrolling in college studies.

 

Question I am struggling with a decision. A decision about College -vs- Airforce. My question... In your opinion why would college be more suitable for High school students than the Airforce? And feel free to write a short novel for the answer. I need all the information I can get. - Latasha
 
AnswerThis is a tough one, and might indeed require a dissertation to answer it. The big distinction is your commitment to serve if you join the Air Force. That would be true whether you enlist, or attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, or join a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program (which can include a very significant scholarship) at many colleges and universities around the country. Joining the military means being in the military — and given what is going on in the world today, that means that after training you are likely to head to or near a war zone. You will also give up personal choice and freedom before or after college. You will need to go where the Air Force sends you. Benefits of enlisting now or going the academy or ROTC route include scholarship money, money for college once you complete your service, training in key skill areas while you are in the armed forces, and so on.

College now will provide you with a broad-based education and many choices after you graduate. You may still join the Air Force at that date, or choose graduate school or a career, with more choice available to you. What's the compromise? ROTC. Apply to colleges of interest to you, and browse the Air Force (and other armed forces) ROTC sites. You'll see great scholarship opportunities, and the chance to try college, and explore the military during college for a few years, before making a final commitment to stay in.

 

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Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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