This is a decision that many people agonize over. Pursuing a college degree is expensive, and nobody wants to waste their time and money on something they might change their mind about later. Everyone wants to make the right decision the first time, because it may not be easy to change paths halfway to their destination. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to decide whether you should go for the passionate route, chasing your dreams, or the pragmatic route, ensuring more career opportunities. There are, however, several things you should consider when deciding which one will lead you to greater happiness and a better life.

From an Economic Standpoint

Everyone wants a job where they know they’re paid well for the work they do. You won’t be satisfied with your career path if you constantly feel overworked and underpaid and that’s perfectly understandable. Therefore, it makes sense to prioritize your future salary when making the decision about choosing the college degree. However, it does not immediately mean that you have to cross your passion off the list, as pragmatic decisions don’t always lead you to the most reasonable salary. If your pragmatic choice would be a career as a pharmacist, but your passionate choice would be a career as an obstetrician, passion would pay more. Outside of considering your pay, you still need to consider if earning that salary is worth the effort, or if the goal is even attainable in the first place.

From a Motivational Standpoint

How much work does each choice entail? How long will you be in school trying to obtain that degree? Before you make a decision, you need to know whether or not you can actually commit to it. No matter how good the prospects are, if you hate your pragmatic options, pursuing that particular degree will feel about as pleasant as pulling teeth. Unless you’re naturally studious, you may find it difficult to complete coursework that you don’t find engaging. If you need to be fully immersed, you’ll have better luck following your passion.

Looking to the Future

When choosing your path, you’re likely looking at the place you’ll initially land once you’ve obtained your degree. You’re going to settle into an entry level position, but what happens after that? If you want to see continued success, you’ll have to choose the path that offers you options for advancing yourself. The worst thing you can do is set yourself up for a dead end.

What Are Your Career Options?

Many people choose pragmatic paths because they’re comforted by the amount of career opportunities they’ll have with their degrees. However, you may be surprised by the amount of options you’ll encounter if you follow the passionate path. You may not be able to do exactly what you wanted to, but sometimes, compromising for something close is better than settling for something you can’t put your heart into.

Can You Do Both?

Passions are often dismissed for either offering low salaries or being unrealistic. If you find that’s the case with your passion, you may still be able to pursue it – concurrent to your pragmatic path. Try to find a few elective courses that engage your passion. Once you’ve graduated and found a stable job, take up your passion as a hobby. You’ll be able to pay your bills and take care of yourself, but you’ll also get to do the things you love. You won’t feel deprived because you’ll experience the best of both worlds.

It may be necessary to spend some time searching your soul before you make a decision. Exploring the situation from every angle will help you put your mind at ease with what you ultimately decide to do. Just be careful about constantly second guessing yourself – you don’t want to get caught in an endless loop that will prevent you from enrolling in college.

Monique Craig works at Oneflare, a well-established online marketplace connecting Australians with local businesses. Monique constantly strives for perfection and in her free time she enjoys self-improvement and entrepreneur literature.



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Passion or Pragmatism: Which Should You Follow When Choosing Your College Degree?