Is College a Waste if My Career Changes?

Can my degree still have relevance if my career changes?


Garrett Mintz , Fri 27 December 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Often used to help people pick themselves up when their lives seem to have fallen into a rut, this quote can be helpful for giving your life some guidance BEFORE hitting the hard parts.


Consider this: according to the bureau of labor statistics, the average person changes jobs 10.8 times between ages 18 and 42. This means you are more likely than not going to work in a career that has no relevance to what you studied in college at some point. This outcome frequently results in people believing their time spent in college was wasted and that what they gained from college may not have been worth thousands of dollars. But when you consider the pros and cons of going to college, remember that life is about the journey. Did attending college add or detract from your life’s journey? 


While not necessarily a clear answer, like most things it will largely depend on your perspective. If you graduated from college with the expectation that getting a degree would guarantee you a job in a field related to that degree and that you would simply ride that job until retirement (with the level of promotions and acknowledgment you believe you deserve over that period of time), it is easy to understand why you may be unhappy with your current situation. Likewise, if you came into college with a clear understanding that the average person will have 11 or 12 jobs in their life, many of which may be completely removed from your college degree, your expectations likely met reality and you are probably more satisfied with your current situation. But while the benefits of your studies may or may not be clearly visible upon finishing school, there is one step that can be taken to ensure that your college experience does not go to waste, no matter how you look at it.


Having a mentor (or multiple mentors) in college is more correlated to career achievement, engagement, and well-being than any other way a college student could spend their time.


The Gallup Purdue Index of 2016 details the value of career services, inclusive experiences and mentorship for college graduates. It is easy to assume that a career service office would value outcomes like career achievement, engagement, and well-being, but it is clear that they are falling short of that mark with only 17% of students in this research responding that they found their career services office to be very helpful.


This research also found that if you spent your time in college developing mentor relationships, not only are you more likely to be employed but more importantly you are more likely to be engaged in your work and think more highly about your college experience.


What is most interesting about this information is that across the board, students who had mentors in college are significantly more likely to thrive and achieve career success than students who did not.


Finding where you belong after college is not an easy task. Everyone at some point or another has struggled with finding where they truly feel at home. By keeping your mind open and surrounding yourself with individuals who can help you get where you want to be, you’ll find your destination soon enough. Having a positive perspective and keeping the right people by your side will ensure that you not only find your home but that the journey to get there will be unforgettable.


Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers