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How to Choose the Right Career Pathway: A Guide for College Students

Written by CB Community

Finding a career is hard enough. Choosing a career, on the other hand, takes a lot of careful work and consideration. It involves a lot of self-knowledge, planning, and contemplation.

With that in mind, below are some tips to help you choose the right career pathway for you and, importantly, how to rule out others.

Be Prepared Mentally to Make the Decision

Your objective of making the right career choice is quite a bit different than finding a “job.” What you might like to do for the rest of your life could differ greatly from the profession that will provide you with a certain lifestyle.

Choosing a career, therefore, should only be a consideration once a person has listed out the pros and cons and can accept everything a particular career path entails.

Choosing a career based purely on money or passion could lead to a lot of stress and regret if not tempered by research, reality, and self-knowledge.

Furthermore, you need to consider the educational realities of a particular career track.

You might really want to work in finance but be unwilling or unable to devote the time and money to pursue an undergraduate degree, followed by one or more rigorous designations.

On the other hand, something like UX, with plenty of online learning options and bootcamps available, might leverage the skills and competencies you have in a way that requires far less investment.

Consider Taking an Aptitude Test

When a person is unsure about which professional route they would like to go, an aptitude test is the best approach to determine what interests the person has.

Once the test is completed, the evaluator will know where the individual’s strengths and weaknesses lie and which career path will fit them best.

For all students who are interested in a particular industry or vocation, these types of assessments can be undergone at college or even online.

Talk to People Already in That Career

People trying to discover their ideal career path should begin reaching out to and networking with others who are already established in that niche or industry.

People with first-hand experience are always going to be your best source of knowledge about and insight into what landing a job in a particular field and succeeding once you are hired entails.

Consider asking them questions such as “do they still love working in this field after all these years?” “What do they enjoy most about their job?” and “Do they strike a good balance between their personal and professional lives?”

You might find that some of the ways in which you have idolized a certain career path are corrected or perhaps dramatically changed by contact with people who actually do it for a living.

Understand Where Your Passions Lie

The idea that a person should be able to immediately understand and tell you what their passions are and what motivates them might seem straightforward, but it can be surprisingly difficult to uncover what your passions are.

Many people do something or spend a considerable amount of time thinking about something, without realizing that that is what they are really passionate about.

Ideally, your career and your passion will overlap as much as possible, and to discover where your passions truly lie, there are some things you can do.

When attempting to uncover your life’s passion, it is critical to be entirely honest with yourself. This can save you a lot of time and effort by being self-critical and willing to recognize where reality meets the road.

Journaling is an excellent method for increasing self-awareness. There are a lot of great diary prompts available to assist you in discovering your passion.

Some ideas for prompts include asking yourself things such as “What is something that comes naturally to me but not to most people?” “What activities cause me to lose track of time?” “What is the one thing I could do for the rest of my life and never grow weary of?”


The word “career” is thrown around too casually nowadays and is often used to simply describe the industry or job that a person either fell into or accepted out of necessity.

The term “career,” however, more aptly describes a consciously chosen and navigated path.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to end up with a career, but the above list provides helpful guidance on how to go about uncovering what career path might ideally suit you.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.