Consider that 61.8% of high school graduates enrolled in college last year, while the U.S. college graduation rate was 62.3%. Meanwhile, 21% of recent college graduates work in jobs unrelated to their field of study, and 34% of employed college grads could have gotten their current job without a college degree.

Many parents and kids are discussing career choices and college options these days. The classic advice of finding what you love, what you are good at, and what you can make a good living from isn’t enough.

Choosing a career is a significant decision that can significantly impact your life and happiness. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to selecting the best career, the following steps can help you make a well-informed decision:

  • Self-assessment: Begin by understanding your interests, passions, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Consider what activities make you feel fulfilled and motivated. Reflect on your skills and aptitudes and how they align with different career paths.
  • Research: Conduct thorough research on various careers that match your interests and skills. Learn about the job responsibilities, salary potential, job market demand, and growth prospects for each career option.
  • Set goals: Define your long-term and short-term career goals. Consider where you want to be in five, ten, or twenty years and what steps you need to take to get there.
  • Education and qualifications: Identify the educational and training requirements for the careers you are interested in. Determine if you need to pursue additional education, certifications, or experience to enter your desired field.
  • Job market analysis: Analyze the job market for the careers you are considering. Look at current trends, job availability, and potential for future growth. Consider the job market’s stability and potential for relocation if necessary.
  • Networking: Connect with professionals who are already working in the fields you are interested in. Conduct informational interviews to gain insights into the day-to-day realities of the job and any challenges they face.
  • Job shadowing or internships: Whenever possible, try to gain hands-on experience through internships or job shadowing opportunities. This can give you a real sense of what a particular career entails and help you determine if it’s the right fit for you.
  • Seek advice: Speak with career counselors, mentors, teachers, family members, or friends who can provide valuable insights and guidance during your decision-making process.
  • Consider work-life balance: Factor in your desired work-life balance when choosing a career. Some careers may demand long hours or travel, while others may offer more flexibility.
  • Personal values: Reflect on how well a career aligns with your personal values and long-term aspirations. A fulfilling career often aligns with one’s values and provides a sense of purpose.
  • Take risks: Sometimes, the best career path involves taking calculated risks. Don’t be afraid to pursue a less conventional path if it resonates with your interests and goals.
  • Adaptability: Keep in mind that the median employee tenure in the US is 4.3 years for men and 3.8 years for women. People often switch careers multiple times in their lives so get good at reinventing yourself while being open to growth and change.

Remember, choosing a career is a process, and exploring different options is okay before making a final decision. Be patient with yourself and trust that with careful consideration and self-awareness, you’ll be better equipped to choose a career that suits you best. If you are not ready, consider going to community college to complete your essential coursework, find an apprenticeship program, join a volunteer organization that allows you to travel or the military.