In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “IMHO.”
When I worked with youth, I would complete a service plan with each of them, which included questions about hobbies, future plans and college/career interests. Part of my job was to not only address the negative situation (these youth were enrolled in a juvenile court diversion program), but to help the youth look beyond today to the future. I emphasized the importance of learning from mistakes, because we all make mistakes, and that you can make choices to improve your situation even if the options are not ideal. Great advice that even I needed to hear from time to time. Other advice I gave was for youth to make a plan and a back-up plan so they could change course if needed.
It was a foregone conclusion that I would go to college when I finished high school, and I did, on a tennis scholarship. Although my parent meant well, especially my Dad, they scoffed at a few of my career interests with statements like, “your grades need to be higher to get into the right college to be a lawyer,” or “Journalism is very competitive, and you often start your career in a Podunk town until you can move up to a bigger market.” I was a city girl, somewhat shy and lacking in confidence with mostly B+ grades, so I didn’t pursue these avenues. I’d like to think that if the internet was available back then that I would have found a way to pursue one of those careers, but…there is no way to know that for sure. My Dad is someone who plans for the worse-case-scenario and is big on “doing your duty,” including working a job you don’t like to provide for your family. I appreciate that he did this for us, but I wish he would have pursued some of his interests and talents that might have still allowed him to provide for his family.
I think that some things happen for a reason, and that some situations are of our own making. Although I had an interest in Psychology, I basically pursued my bachelor’s degree by default- I wasn’t interested in the careers suggested to me, and I was advised against other careers, so I kind of just went in a familiar direction without a plan of how to proceed after I got my degree. It didn’t help matters that I made various poor choices (friends, relationships, and how I spent my free time), struggled with my management of these choices, and that I didn’t live up to my academic potential. There were times when I figured I would just get through whatever was going on, and that “it” would just work out. There were other times when I just didn’t care, as much as I hate to admit it. If I had just figured out ME, what I wanted, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do without worrying about what others did or thought, I would have been fine. Easier said than done, especially after years of being the outsider with few friends. Ultimately, I have learned that it is best to be who you are, and let others accept it.
I believe that there is more than one path to success, including paths that don’t involve college, but I believe that you should make a plan and a back-up plan, and that you should try to map a way to your goals without too many pitfalls and without going into massive debt. Before you pursue a degree, look into the options it will offer you long-term. Unless you plan on becoming a psychologist or a professor, or you plan to obtain a master’s degree with licensure, I would advise against getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology. You will take interesting classes but you will be limited in career opportunities. Being a case manager (or other social service worker) can be very rewarding but typically doesn’t allow for too much advancement or big money-making, and is a career path with a high probability of burnout. This is why many people working in social services move around, in addition to the frequent changes in funding their agencies deal with each year.
If I had it to do over, which would now cost me too much, I would have been a journalist. I like helping people, but writing is something I have done in some form or fashion for a long time. Thank you, Word Press, for giving people like me a healthy outlet for their passion and their daily stress!
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