Career Advice for Young Adults
Dear Annie: I found the letter concerning college students who decided on careers too early to be very interesting. I have spent 40-plus years working with a Scout troop as an adult and have watched as many young men, and now young ladies, pursue interests in many areas through the merit badges they earned or dabbled in.
With well over 100 different topics, they were introduced to many occupations or hobbies they could explore further on their own. Of course, the merit badge program is only a part of the Scouting picture, and the Scouts also see many different occupations and interests as they do volunteer work out in their communities.
Even deeper exposure to occupations and areas of interest happens if they go on to the Explorer program, which emphasizes a single area of interest, such as geology, law enforcement, firefighting, etc. I don't work with Explorer troops so am not as familiar with that part of the Scouting program.
I encourage parents and young people to look into the Scouting program as a means to not only serve the community but also to help youth discover what they might want to pursue as an occupation, and also to discover what they want to get as far away from as they can! -- Advice From Vancouver
Dear Vancouver: Thank you for sharing your experience as a Scout leader. The issue of deciding on one's chosen career is complex, and the experiences your Scouts have had seem to be an excellent way to have exposure to many possibilities. The next letter is from an accountant who has an interesting perspective about college.
Dear Annie: I agree with the suggestion that all high school students consult with a guidance counselor and take an aptitude test before choosing a college and a major. It is incredibly important to choose the correct college for the field you wish to enter.
Ignoring the cost of education in this discussion is reckless. In my long career as a certified public accountant, I have seen far too many of my clients' children exit college rudderless with a huge debt load. If money is no object, by all means let the student experiment, but for most it's important to understand the potential return on their investment. It is not wise to invest large sums in the stock market without performing due diligence, and part of that due diligence is understanding the potential outcomes.
I reject the notion that individuals who are 18 years old are too young to make such decisions. They are legally able to enter into contracts, including marrying and enlisting in the military, two decisions of far greater consequence than choosing a major. If they are old enough to burden themselves with all this debt, they are old enough to consider the implications on their future. The consequences of borrowing all that money should be clearly explained to each and every one of them.
Also, there is no shame in bypassing college altogether and beginning a trade. In fact, those who do gain an early financial edge. -- From a CPA
Dear CPA: Thank you for your perspective, which focuses mainly on the short-term financial return on an investment in higher education. At the same time, there is much to be said for a liberal arts education, but as you point out, it is not for everyone.
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