After 3 long semesters of self reflection, I have an announcement to make; I chose the wrong Master program! There, I said it. If you know me in real life then I’m sure this comes as no surprise but to my blog readers, it might.
I’ve tried to do the sunny approach to my blog when it comes to my educational experience. Don’t get me wrong, I always keep things 100% real, but I have tended reserve judgement when it came to my university and program.
I messed up when choosing what path I wanted to follow for my higher education and that’s no one’s fault but my own. So, let me share my mistakes with you so that maybe you can avoid them yourself. Here are 7 things to look out for so that you can detect earlier than I did, that your Bachelor, Master, or Professional degree may not be the right fit for you.
You know you’ve chosen the wrong degree program when:
…you have zero interest in the subject matter outside of class.
I remember hearing all the time in high school to pick a course of study that you actually enjoy, something related to what you like doing outside of class. For me this was always super unhelpful because I genuinely liked learning about all sorts of things. And at the high school level, most material is published with the intent to keep hold of the short attention span of a younger student.
What I would suggest if I could do it over again, would be to take 5 or so graduate level articles from major publications (we’re talking peer-reviewed with methodology sections, regression tables, etc) to read-through and see if that exercise was a marathon or intriguing. I can guarantee you even High School Heather would have found finance research boring and it would have deterred me from pursuing this degree. If my Bachelors program had us read more research, I might have gotten the clue that continuing on with finance was not for me.
…you have nothing in common with the majority of your classmates.
What I mean by this statement are big fundamental differences between your classmates and you. If you are the only one of any sort of major demographic in your class then either you’re a mold-breaker (go you!) or you don’t really belong there.
For example, in my program, I am one of the only (if not the only) student from a rural area. This translates into countless other differences in life experience and views on the world and way things should be. Diversity in all forms, especially thought, should be appreciated and welcome but in my case it was a big indicator that this degree program was not for me.
…you hate every class or lectures seem impossible to follow.
If you want to cry during 90% of your lectures, can’t seem to pay attention, or genuinely can’t follow most of what’s going on in class, then maybe you chose the wrong field of study. I want to clarify that I don’t think you should just give up when things get hard, but when you love what you are learning then the long lecture and challenging topics seem more possible to conquer and you are so much more excited to figure it out.
It’s like climbing a mountain. Are you just putting one foot in front of the other, trudging along, head down, knowing that you will eventually get to the top, or is there a spring in your step as you admire your surroundings and gauge your progress despite being weary? Right now I am just plowing forward. I want to be done with my program so that I can move on with my life. I will certainly not give up because I am learning a lot of useful skills from my classes and lessons about myself, but my goodness has a mountain never looked so steep.
…the elements of lecture you enjoy are the moments your peers hate.
After three semester in my program, I have only come across one thing I really enjoyed learning. And guess what? It’s something my peers wish our professor skipped over. It’s basically the reversal of the section above. I am happily climbing this mountain and they are only doing it because they have to.
If you’re not genuinely interested in anything within your lectures during the first semester, then you’re probably in the wrong program. A possible way to gauge that quicker than sitting through months of lecture is to ask what your peers are interested in learning about within the course. If you have the exact opposite interests then maybe you should rethink your choices.
…you don’t really know or care to know the key employers, position titles or nuances of applications after graduating.
If you don’t care enough about the industry to know who your potential employers are or what job title to put in the search bar of a company’s “Careers” section, then that field of study is probably not where you’re wanting to work and therefore probably not what you should be studying.
…you face an overwhelming sense of dread coming back after vacations or breaks.
I think everyone is a bit sad when summer or winter break is over and absolutely everyone thinks that their vacations aren’t quite long enough, but when you have a countdown to impending doom on your calendar then maybe you’re not in the right program.
…your “go to” topics for small talk are vastly different from your peers.
While similar to the “nothing in common” bit above, this bit is meant as more of an immediate interest vs deep rooted differences. When I listen to my peers at lunch or at parties, they’re all talking about finance somehow whether it be about class, news or work.
When I get to lunch, I generally bring up in conversation the latest (non-finance) study that crossed my Facebook feed or the philosophy behind the latest political uproar. While my peers definitely enjoy these conversations too, I almost never enjoy theirs to the same degree which was a big indicator to me that I made the wrong choice.
There you have it. These are some major signs I pretty much ignored even as far back as high school and my Bachelor program that should have kept me from looking for a Master in Finance program. Do I regret my decision? It’s too early to tell. Like I said, I’m learning a lot of really useful things that are applicable to so many difference careers. Is finance my passion? No. I can comfortable say that, compared to my peers, finance is not the love of my life.
All I can do is wait and see what the future holds and hope that if any future employers finds and reads this post, they see someone who is determined, hard working, introspective, and willing to admit when they are wrong. Until then I will be doing a lot of research to find out my next steps towards a career I can comfortably commit my life to.