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How important is career planning in selecting a college or grad school?

QUESTION: I am trying to decide which college to go to but I don't know how I should factor in my career goals when deciding. To what extent should I incorporate career planning into my decision about which college or grad school to attend? Signed, Seeking Wise Decision

Dear Seeking Wise Decision: Reaching your career goals is like taking a train. It may be a direct route to your goal. You may be a pre-medicine major in college, attend medical school and become a doctor. Or, as is the case for many students, it may be a less direct route with connections in between. You may gain experience in several careers before selecting the one that fits the best. And your final destination can be very different from what you expected it to be.

Ideally, your career goals should play a role in your college or graduate school choice. You will want to find the college or graduate school that offers the best preparation for your career. The better idea you have of your career goals, the more clearly you can determine how well a school fits them. It's important to speak with those who are in the field now to get their advice and to speak with students and professors at the school to understand what the college or graduate school offers to help you attain your goals. Know the courses that are offered, approach to learning and support that is provided for finding internships and jobs.

If you are not sure what you want to do, then try to select a school that offers strong programs in the subjects in which you excel. In any case, be ready for and even welcome changes to your plan along the way.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.