Ask Dr. Zoe – Should I Finish My Degree or Change My Career Path?

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‘Still Not Graduated’ Asked:

I have been very blessed that my parents have been able to financially support me as I seek higher education. The problem is I don’t know what I want from this education. I recently realized that I am extremely unhappy pursuing my current degree, but I do not want to change course and begin working on a different degree. However, since I never did any internships in school, I have no experience and cannot find employment. I feel that my parents have invested so much money in me, and I have nothing to show them in return. Should I finish my degree and try to gain experience? I am at a loss for what to do now.

Dr. Zoe Answered:

My advice is simple and short. If you are within a year or two of your degree, get your degree. Finish what you started. It’s okay that you don’t know what you are going to do with it yet or even that you may pivot.

I’m not suggesting that you do this for your parents but for yourself. Although it’s important that we respect our parents in all seasons of our lives, it’s not healthy to live for their dreams or expectations. You’ve got to live your own life on your terms.

College grad freaking out boardIt’s also completely untrue that there isn’t a benefit in getting the degree if you aren’t interested anymore in what you are studying. Having your degree will open more doors in the meantime while you figure out what you want to do “when you grow up.” It’s likely that something you are learning now, even if it is completely unrelated to the field in which you will eventually settle, will be useful at some point in your future.

The only waste will be if you have gone this far and don’t finish. My advice is to finish and then evaluate where you want your life to go from there. You can always gain experience or add more schooling later.

I know of lawyers who have pivoted and become journalists, psychologists who have become actors, and actors who have become politicians. All of them use their formal education to inform their current work.

This can be a frustrating time, but if you adjust your lens a bit and view it as a time of exploration while you are finishing this degree, you will not see it as wasted time or money.

You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.

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