Sometimes planning your future can be more complicated than finding and choosing something you love to do. The story of how I initially settled on my major probably echoes that of many other college students today who took a while to decide what they wanted to do. Here are 3 factors that made me fall in love with my major and decide to seriously pursue a career in the field of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences.
Like everyone else, by the time I reached my junior year of high school, I was already very tired of receiving countless questions, from what felt like everyone in my life, regarding my future. After another conversation with my mom about what I could potentially do with my life, I finally decided that speech-language pathology (SLP) sounded like a decent answer to parrot for the next few years until I figured out what I actually wanted to do. And that’s exactly what I did, all the way through officially choosing my major at Texas Tech University. Once I started my coursework, I discovered 3 factors that helped me realize how perfect the seemingly random field I had chosen was for me.
Variety of roles
One of the first things that I noticed about my major and fell in love with is how many types of job opportunities my degree can present. Speech pathologists and audiologists can work in a wide variety of settings and work with people of any age and background, from newborns with difficulty swallowing, to prisoners with traumatic brain injuries, to elderly individuals with aphasia. I like that you can choose so many different avenues and can change your mind, all with the common theme of helping people. I think it’s important to find a profession that allows you to grow in and with your occupation as you grow up and change yourself, in all aspects of your life. For example, right now my dream job as a SLP would be to work with premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a hospital, but I realize that if I become a mom in the future, that job might no longer be the best fit for me. With SLP, I can always change my mind and work with a different age group (i.e., pediatrics or adults), with a different condition (e.g., aphasia, phonological disorder, TBI, etc.), or in a different setting (i.e., hospital, clinic, school, etc.).
Incorporates personal interests
It’s important to choose a field that can potentially provide opportunities that appeal to your personal interests as well as professional interests. For example, I love to travel and wanted to choose an occupation that would allow me to do so without forcing me to constantly be on the road. With a degree in SLP, I will be able to pursue occupations which involve travel (e.g., pediatric home health) at points of my life I deem appropriate. Other opportunities to consider could be networking and advancement if moving up the ladder is an important factor for you.
Finally, I recommend evaluating something I call the ‘cost-happiness ratio’ of a profession. While making enough money to support your lifestyle is the overall goal of working and arguably the most important aspect, as they always say, “money can’t buy happiness”. Evaluate the benefit of a profession by comparing the amount of positivity and happiness the job brings into your life with the actual financial gain of the job. Then determine whether the values are proportional. For example, if you make a lot of money doing a job that makes you miserable, the money may not be worth it overall. Through my major-related classes and learning more about my field, I have learned that helping people is the work I find most gratifying.
By considering the variety of roles in a career field, the possible opportunities a field could offer you, and the cost-happiness ratio, you can find the college major that will be best for you.
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