Take classes with a purpose

Jessica is an NSU doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at NSU. She currently works as a writing tutor at the Tutoring and Testing Center.

We often hear people describing college like they might describe Hogwarts—a magical place full of wonder, possibilities and opportunities. They’re not necessarily wrong, but the important thing to remember is that while there are hundreds of opportunities to learn whatever you want, it isn’t a bad idea to try to narrow your classes down and study with a purpose.

Every employer has certain expectations of what the ideal employee should have on his or her transcript. Employers may require you to have taken certain classes in order to have the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for the job. With this in mind, here are some things that you can think about when planning for the next semester, graduation and what comes afterward.

Have a plan

There are so many classes that you can take that will expose you to many different fields. If you know for sure what you would like to do for your career straight out of high school, you likely have an idea of the classes that you will need to take in order to get to where you are trying to go. You can talk to academic advisors in your discipline if you want to be sure that you are on the right track.

If you don’t exactly know what your plans are, that’s okay. My advice is simply to utilize the resources around you. Take as many general courses in the areas that interest you and use those experiences to narrow down your interest to something specific. You can even use your life experience to help you decide. For example, if you have never considered mechanical engineering as a career, but you know that you love taking apart and putting together radios or spending time under the hoods of cars, you might consider branching out to fields that involve building machines or fixing cars and take related classes. If you truly have no idea where your interests can take you, you can always talk to academic advisors or career counselors on campus to help you get an understanding of what your options are.

The bottom line is: take classes that get you where you want to go. Having 16 psychology, nine English literature, and 13 criminal justice classes on your transcript is awesome, and you’ll probably be knowledgeable on all of those subjects, but ultimately it isn’t helpful if you’re trying to be a marine biologist.

Do your research

Once you have a job in mind post-graduation, the best way to ensure you are prepared to tackle that field is to do some research about the expectations employers have and what the job requirements are. Are you expected to get a certification before applying? Are you more likely to get the job if you get a graduate degree?

Conversely, it is also important to know what your expectations for your job are. If you get a certain job, are the tasks what you imagined they would be? What are your expectations of your employers? If you get a job with a certain company doing a certain job, does this job align with your personal values and ethics? Additionally, what can this job do for you? Does the job you are looking into provide room for professional growth over time?

I recognize that there are many things to think about. It may seem like you are getting hit with all of these thoughts all at once, but I assure you it will be so worth it to take a few moments everyday to regroup and to assess if you are on the path that you imagined for yourself.

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