What Should I Study?
The question of what to study in college is a personal choice that warrants a hard look at your abilities, interests and motivations, where you want your life to go and the kind of impact you want to make. Whether you have a strong aptitude for mathematics and engineering or a passion for the arts and creating, you can find a degree program that will allow you to explore your interests and turn them into a rewarding career. Some people know exactly what they want to do and be when they grow up, but many of us do not, even as adults returning to school. We may feel adrift and just going through the motions, unhappy and unfulfilled in our current job. Or we have an interest but don’t know how to leverage that into a viable career. This is where career counselors and advisors come in. Most colleges provide undergraduate and returning adult students with guidance to match skills and interests with programs and careers in order to find the best path forward. There are also myriad skills and aptitude assessment tests available online to gauge your strengths, weaknesses and interests, some free and some you have to pay for. Whatever your life goals are, it is important to have a definite, realistic plan in mind when plotting your course and choosing your classes. Having a plan will help you stay focused and motivated, and help you navigate obstacles that inevitably will arise.
Licensing and Certification
It is important to consider the licensing and certification qualifications of your chosen profession and what barriers there may be to obtaining them in addition to the educational requirements. Some professions may not be an option for people with certain criminal records, or there will be additional hurdles. Such factors as the class of crime and length of sentence, along with rehabilitative steps and time elapsed since can be mitigating factors to present to a licencing board or agency.
This does not mean that you should not pursue a degree, especially as an undergraduate, in something you are passionate about. You may find alternative opportunities along the way, or new and creative ways to use the knowledge you have gained. Don’t let anyone discourage you from studying what you are interested in. Learn about what you love. You can figure out how to use it later, but even if you don’t, you will have accomplished something meaningful to you, and having a degree will make you more marketable, no matter what it is.
Rebuilding your life after prison is daunting, uncertain and scary at times. There will be more obstacles, more hoops to jump through, and you may have to forge your own path. It won’t be easy, and you may face a lot of rejections and disappointments along the way. Don’t give up. There is hope. There are people willing to support you, and companies willing to give you a chance. You may have to start at the bottom and work your way up, prove yourself to be capable, reliable and deserving. There are companies willing to give you a chance to get your foot in the door.