When I grow up…

I remember when I was a little kid, I had all kinds of plans for my future. It seems that children have this amazing ability to dream without inhibition. I was going to be anything from a hairdresser, to a teacher, to a famous country singer. Maybe I would do all of these at once, while also having a husband, and leading children.

As I grew older my dreams changed, but there was still this natural tendency to think of fantastic dreams. I went from being a hairdresser to owning my own salon/clothingstore/bakery. Can you imagine getting your haircut in a place that bakes muffins in the back? It might smell good, but probably doesn’t leave a great image (hair in a cupcake?). I also imagined things like producing music (ah, music) and owning a Christian retail store.

The point is, that kids (even teens) are not afraid to have big dreams. As I was finishing up my last two years of high school, I found the common denominator in all of my dreams: my own business. I asked my mom what classes were offered that might help me with this because I wanted to get a head start (which makes it ironic that I am now in my fifth year as and undergraduate, finishing a four year degree). This is where I met accounting, and very mistakenly thought it was for me. I think was amazed by how much it taught me about business. However, as I got into college I heard so much about what a big deal it was. Apparently (as I later found out) it was an extremely difficult field, which paid off a few years into the career. 

As stated in my previous posts, I have explored information about the opportunities that the study of accounting can give. I don’t know if it was the crazy intense course work, with knowledgeable yet poor (in ability) teachers that set me on the right path at my previous university, but I realized I had forgotten that common denominator I mentioned. It wasn’t exactly accounting that I loved (though if there was any love for it, my previous university destroyed it), but it was business! I had allowed the positive stigma of an accounting degree, and the pessimistic view of new businesses in our economy (and my small town) take my real dream out of view. That wasn’t fair to the little kid in me, or the nervous college grad.

So I had this revelation and returned to the the 4 year university I had started with. A business degree with an emphasis in accounting. Now this seems perfectly suited to me. Until I realized that I’m graduating in 7 months and have no idea (!) what kind of job I am going to get. All of the horror stories I had heard of business students starting out in entry level positions (that high school grads can get) came flooding back to me! In the same moment I thought of my enormous student debt that had resulted from well meaning, but horribly wrong university/concentration decisions.

So, to calm my precious and scattered nerves, I decided to do a job search for people with my degree.

It didn’t help.

Remember that important post about internships? Yeah, I should have taken my own advice. The general idea: ‘If you don’t have the degree, at least you might have some experience.’ No. Not me. So, what did I decide after I scrambled to maintain some sort of composure? 

If I have any hope of moving out and paying off my student debt, I need to get a master’s degree. Which is great, because you know, those are free…

Anywho, my point is to say, I messed up. I let go of my childhood dreams, and bought into this idea of this crazy intense career that had a big payoff. My advice to anyone beginning a college education:

  • get away from influences (the media, family, friends) and find out what you want to do with your life
  • write your dream down and keep it where you can see it, you will be reminded and keep focus
  • get your general education courses out of the way (i recommend a cheap, but well known junior college-you could finish these for free)! you won’t want to have to worry about theses pesky requirements while you are in your high level classes (or trying to graduate)
  • stop, pause. have your dreams changed? have you learned any new information about your field of study that makes you think it is not for you? consider this new information with who you are, what your values are, where you want to be, and who you want to help
  • honestly, take a break if you need to figure things out. do not aimlessly take classes and switch schools while trying to figure things out. maybe dabble with a few classes to see what you like, but do not risk your GPA or financial well being
  • finally, pick a school that has exactly what you need, and what you want in order to complete your degree. location is as important as you make it, but if you do go away have a way to come home for breaks (you will want it more than you think).

I am not saying my journey wasn’t worth it. In one of my first post I mentioned my great big dreams for a nonprofit organization for women. Everything that has lead up to the scared college graduate writing this, also lead up to her realizing that dream. My only hope is that I can help others realize their dreams, and maybe with a little less turmoil than I did (that’s another post, for another time).

Carefully consider what you want for your future, and do not waste money in the process. You have time to figure it out. You can always hit the books harder later to stay on course. From one almost college grad, who is very unsure about life after the books, don’t forget your childhood dreams. They make more sense than you think.

~Anna M.

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