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How to Choose University Courses by balancing Interest and Employment potential.

How to research job prospects for a University or college course, how to pursue your passions while balancing and diversifying your skills to make you more employable.

Many college students choose University courses that they are interested in, where they feel they have a talent and what naturally draws them. However it is good to consider future potential employment opportunities before deciding what classes to choose. I would like to share some of my experiences from studying at a few Universities, so as to help any younger college students stave off a potentially regrettable decision.

First, you should realize that University is a business. Universities entice you into spending your money on programs that are intended to raise you to the level of a skilled professional in the field that you choose. While this is seemingly innocuous, the sales pitch bringing you into a certain program is often silent and dismissive of what happens once you exit the program.

So here lies the risk. As much as most people would not like to believe, purely studying in a field will not guarantee employment. Now some have said that they've entered into liberal arts courses and found employment. I cannot speak to their stories, but I will say that from my perspective, that such a result is rare. Rather, many of my friends who pursued degrees in psychology, art, sculpture, english, theater, philosophy, music, etc. are currently struggling with an economy that is not receptive of their talents.

This is not to say that those skills are not valuable, rather they're very important, but we are in a world where those types of educational paths often lead to employment options that will not easily cover the cost of the university training.

I would recommend that if a student is interested in liberal arts, they should choose something far afield of that, perhaps in the sciences, maths, or business areas, to balance out their education and make them more traditionally employable.

The trick is to try to diversify your educational background to include many fields in say arts, business, sciences and technology to maximize your chances of being employed. Diversify your educational plan before you enter college, do not take courses solely for your personal education, without thought as to your actual post-graduate employment.

If you find that you're absolutely passionate about a field that has fewer job opportunities, then try to find a degree that is compatible with that field; you may even be able to minor in your field of passion. For example, if you like philosophy, you can learn Software Engineering and minor in philosophy and then use what you learned in philosophy to enhance your Software Engineering career. The teachings of logic, using words meaningfully, asking questions about what others mean can be very useful in Software Engineering. Also, even if your passion isn't marketable, you may still be able to pursue it "on the side" in college for your future entertainment. A theater degree isn't very marketable in many places but you can participate in many enjoyable theater groups.

On the issue of finding jobs, one of the biggest problems today is that people are trying to follow their passions without adequate skills or experience they can use towards those passions. Sometimes one needs to really work on their skill level, and gaining things they can use as leverage.

You can learn the career prospects of a certain field by utilizing Informational Interviews. You learn about the realities of your perspective career's job market. Who gets hired, what you need to know to get hired, what people who are already doing the job would advise. Additionally, with the inside scoop you gain an advantage over other applicants if you decide to pursue that career, and you now know people in that industry. Most professionals are happy to help newcomers if you make it easy for them.

Another great place to research the future career prospects for any field is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It has lots of information about practically all careers available.