Finding the Right Program Part Two

This is the second post in a three-part blog series. We’ll take a look at choosing your major by examining how a degree fits into your future goals.

You may have narrowed your decision to a particular program, but now you are asking: Will it help me in the future? Great question! And this is one that all students should answer before choosing a major. It’s not enough to be interested in a particular area of study—you need to know that earning your degree will help you in reaching both your career and personal goals. Here are three important considerations in choosing a degree program that aligns with your future goals.

1. Consider Career Outlook
If you have already determined that you have an invested interest in building your career in a certain industry or area of study, your next step is to examine the careers linked with this degree. This is an important consideration when choosing a degree program. Career outlook is really about understanding the potential of a career in the future and the potential opportunities in that particular job.  Are careers in this industry likely to be around in 20 years? How many job openings are projected after you graduate? The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook offers tons of great information including pay, work environment, job outlook and similar occupations. Many universities also link SOC numbers to their degree programs to help aid you in your program choice. These are identity numbers that link back to the Department of Labor’s O*NET, another online career information resource. If you do not know the SOC number you can also search the site by career name.

These sites and many others are a great resource for students and can help you know more about the industry and career path associated with the degree program of your interest. Take the time to do your research and explore resources like this so you can make an informed decision about your future.

2. Opportunities for Growth
Opportunity for growth is another important consideration when finding the right degree program. This should be something you consider of both your education and career path. Many jobs and companies offer opportunities for advancement, some of those require a higher degree level or Continuing Education courses/CEUs. Consider what this means for you in the future. Are you looking to continue to advance? Does the degree program you are considering offer program laddering opportunities?

For example, NAU provides a program pathway for those who want to advance their degree level in order to open new opportunities or for the joy of lifelong learning. This includes programs at the diploma, associate and bachelor’s level that transition into the next degree level.Program Pathway-- transitioning into the next degree level

Download our free Program Laddering graphic to understand what that could mean for you!

3. Cost versus Value
You may be looking at the price tag before deciding which degree program you will choose, but are you considering the whole picture? Choosing to earn your degree will cost you more than money. An invested interest in a particular area of study means you are willing to invest your money, time and hard work into your studies to ensure you reach your goals. However, while costs are what you put in, value is the benefits you will receive from those costs. Consider the potential benefits of earning your degree—higher earnings, competitive advantage in the work force as well as numerous personal gains. It’s important that you consider all the costs and weigh them against the values. How do they stack up to each other? Choosing your program means finding the right fit for your future. Take time to think through what the costs and values of this decision mean to you.

Discover what programs are right for you! Check out NAU's Programs or call today to visit with one of our Admissions experts!

Did you miss the first post? Read Finding the Right Program Part One

Tabatha Murphy
11 June, 2014