General chatter - What I'm considering majoring in college...

02-20-2012, 07:20 PM
Hi, everyone! I'm a 17 year old junior in high school and I've been a health kick for a while now. So I've been considering majoring in fitness studies and becoming a personal trainer in college..

02-20-2012, 11:17 PM
Nice. Do what you love. I have a degree in photography and although I am in a lot of debt, wouldn't trade it for the world. I would rather be a little poor for awhile and happy than hate myself for going into something like nursing.

02-20-2012, 11:29 PM
Where I live, to be a personal trainer you just need a certificate, not a full on degree. What I've been considering on doing is transferring to Bachelor of Nutrition program (to become a nutritionist/dietitian) and then getting my personal training certificate. You could charge a pretty decent amount since you'd be able to help people with both the nutrition and physical aspects of weight loss/health.

02-21-2012, 12:35 AM
i was thinking of doing that for a little while, but i love being fit and healthy more as a lifestyle than an occupation.

but seriously, do what you love and do it well. (:

02-21-2012, 07:18 AM
I agree with above posters. Do what you love! If it makes you happy then go with it!

I have a Bachelor's in History/Elementary Ed and a Master's in Elementary Ed/Special Ed. Right now I'm a newbie Special Ed teacher and I absolutely love it :) It was totally worth all of the headache I went through last year in graduate school.

02-21-2012, 12:00 PM
Nice. Do what you love. I have a degree in photography and although I am in a lot of debt, wouldn't trade it for the world. I would rather be a little poor for awhile and happy than hate myself for going into something like nursing.

I agree! I went back and forth over a lot of degrees. I should have gone accounting or business given I'm already in Finance. I could have been done in no time as well. But it just didn't make me happy. I decided on an art degree which added about 2 years to my path since I'm a half time student. Then I had to decide which art degree! I finally decided on one that's so regimented it tacked on another year of school! Holy crap.

But, happiness is hard to put a price on and completely worth it in my opinion. Take a class that counts towards your major (i.e. not core curriculum) ASAP and make sure it's a good fit for you. If you love it, go for it!

02-21-2012, 02:50 PM
I'm going to have to disagree a little bit here with everyone.

I'm all for doing what you love, but I think college students need a little dose of reality.

Do you really want to end up thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that may not even get you a decent job? What about going to school for a field that may pay you a decent salary and THEN taking classes in something you love?

I honestly wonder what people are thinking when they decide to major in something like history or political science and leave school with 50k in debt and no job prospects.


Quiet Ballerina
02-21-2012, 03:22 PM
I agree 100% with Vex. Glad you posted what I was going to say.
Candeka also offered good advice.

It might help if I explain my story:
Went into college not knowing what I wanted to study. I was pushed into choosing a major after 1 semester (I should have waited, in retrospect). I chose something I loved...Theatre. Specifically, technical theatre. Backstage stuff like costumes and stage management and lighting...mostly stage management. I worked my booty off in college, filling my resume with shows. By the time my Junior year rolled around I was the best Stage Manager in the department, hands down. Went to job conferences for Summer internships. I loved it...for those 4 years. Then I was in a miserable internship where I wasn't happy with the work or most of the staff. And I realized that while theatre is doesn't offer the job stability or decent pay that I needed, and it was a very high stress/thankless job.

So now I'm in school again, which will give me a good degree, but it's costing me about $50,000...probably more. When I graduate, I'll have a career that will give me opportunities all over the US (important to me), flexibility on hours/ability to work part or full time (important to me), and a great salary (important to me). Will it be a job I love? Most days, but that wasn't at the top of my list this time around (in the top 10, but not the absolute top...if that makes sense).

So while it's important you do something you love, it's also important to be realistic about money (hey, bills need to be paid) and your future. I'm very fortunate that I had scholarships the first time around in school, so I don't have student loans from before.

Not trying to knock down your hopes and dreams. I'd look into what options you have, talk with your school counselors or any personal trainers you have access to. See what they have to say/what degrees they have/if they have any tips or suggestions. :)

02-21-2012, 03:23 PM
I'm going to have to disagree a little bit here with everyone.

I'm all for doing what you love, but I think college students need a little dose of reality.

Do you really want to end up thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that may not even get you a decent job? What about going to school for a field that may pay you a decent salary and THEN taking classes in something you love?

I honestly wonder what people are thinking when they decide to major in something like history or political science and leave school with 50k in debt and no job prospects.


Maybe it's because I'm young but I just don't see the appeal in majoring in something just because you can make money off of it. If you're miserable then is it really worth it? I mean right now I'm a newbie at my career, but I don't wake up each day dreading going to work like I did when I worked at a job just for the sake of making money. I usually wake up, ready to go and can't wait to see what the day offers me.

Also if you know your chosen field leaves you with very little job prospects, then why go to an expensive school anyway? College can be affordable if you play your cards right. Had I stopped with a bachelor's and simply went with my history degree I would not have any debt because I got scholarship and worked through college. So while I may have had a tough time finding a job, at least I would have gone through college doing something I love (and graduating hopefully doing something I love).

I knew it would be difficult to find a job just with a history degree though, so I went into teaching and wound up loving it. Getting my master's helped my job prospects (and I currently have a job as a teacher) but put me into debt. But still, I know teachers don't make a lot of money so I got another scholarship for graduate school and quite frankly I have a lot less in student loans to pay than most!

I think people do need a dose of reality (no, you probably don't need to go to that 50k a year school when you're majoring in philosophy) but it shouldn't be at the expense of something they enjoy doing and find fulfilling.

02-21-2012, 03:24 PM
I believe most programs offer degrees in health and exercise science although if personal training is your heart's desire and not physical therapy, administrative roles, or something requiring four years of school, consider the certification courses for personal training. My university offered for like 500 for a week long night class to students and the general public. It is good way to supplement income and some gyms keep personal trainers on staff. If you think you would like to run a gym, consider the certification and some sort of business classes. Good luck whatever you decide. The best man at my wedding opened a crossfit gym and has recently reenrolled in school for business and health classes after losing 150 pounds.

02-21-2012, 04:01 PM
I don't encourage 50k in student loans. There are many options to help get you through school and lessen the financial burden.

If I were advising someone that was not able to get any financial aid and would have to rely solely on loans I would recommend they hammer out their basic/core classes at a community college. Locally, these classes are about 340 dollars for three semester credits compared to 1,100 at the state university. Then, once ready to move on to credits towards a major/minor, find an employer that offers tuition assistance. My employer pays for 3 semester credits and waves all state mandated fees. I use this tuition assistance to go part time to ensure I receive federal aid. (Most time you must be enrolled half time to receive prorated federal aid) The upside to this arrangement is you have good solid employment history when you graduate. Even if it's not in your chosen field it shows maturity and an ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.

By the way, at some schools, tuition is negotiable. In addition, if you didn't get as much student aid, you can appeal and they will sometimes provide additional "in house", university discretionary aid.

It may take a bit longer but you aren't a slave to student debt repayment for the rest of your life. A balance between practicality and happiness is needed.

02-21-2012, 05:57 PM
I don't mean to bash on anyone's hopes and dreams either. I also don't mean that you should only pick a degree based on money.

I just think that you should spend your money wisely and think about how it could work best for you.

Let's take art. You can major in art, but would something like computer graphics be still enjoyable yet more practical?

Or like the original topic of this thread - yes fitness studies would be enjoyable, but would something like biology or physical therapy give you more employment options afterwards? (just an example, I don't know what the job market is for personal trainers)

Just some thoughts.


02-21-2012, 05:57 PM
I got a degree to get a degree to get a decent job. That was a mistake. I should have stayed in school longer to get a degree in something I enjoyed. You'll have to work for the next 40+ years. Do something you love. I've only been at this job for about two years now and I'm ready to pull my hair out. I'm thinking of quitting in the next six months to get an entry level job dealing with something I love.

It really comes down to what is important to YOU. If making money is important, go that route. If enjoying what you'll be doing is what you find important, go that route. What works for some of us does not work for everyone.

02-21-2012, 06:25 PM
Do you really want to end up thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that may not even get you a decent job? What about going to school for a field that may pay you a decent salary and THEN taking classes in something you love?

I understand that most people prefer not to go into debt and have the mentality of a job is just a job, but when I'm working there 5-7 days a week, I personally didn't want to hate myself because of my occupation. I chose to do what I'm passionate about.

If you decide to do what you love, you'll have to work your hiney off to make money sometimes, but that's life. You're not going to have everything handed to you as most people my age seem to think.

I am a professional photographer (which is an EXTREMELY hard field to compete in) and if you're GOOD at what you do, you should have no problems finding work and someone who will appreciate your abilities.

The job market is horrible for everyone right now.

Ultimately it's up to you. It just depends on person to person whether your job is just going to be a job or if your life is going to revolve around your work.

Congratulations on going to college in the first place! A lot of people are just giving up and saying forget it because the job market is so bad.

02-21-2012, 09:29 PM
You all make good points! I know I want to major in something in the physical science profession. Maybe I'll become a physical therapist..

02-22-2012, 05:13 AM
I have to agree with the posters who aren't overtly encouraging you to go for what you love. I mean, yes go for it, but be option to other avenues that encompass what you love.

For example, from as early as I can remember I wanted to be an Egyptologist and an archeologist. I loved ancient Egypt and I loved ancient cultures in general. I also wanted to study theology (not just Abrahamic religions but others too). Those were (and to some degree still are) my passions. But what type of job opportunities are there as an Egyptologist? Not many. It's also tiring work struggling for funding for pretty much everything. Same with archeology and theology. They're incredibly interesting to me, but in order for me to have the things I want, they won't be able to pay for them.

It's all well and good to be doing something you love, but I'd also like to be doing something I enjoy while being able to afford housing and having a stable job future.

I went into medical transcription because I thought I could use it as a stepping stone later on and that I would really enjoy it. I got to sit around on the computer all day and type. How cool! Six years in and I hate it. It doesn't pay nearly enough, we're being outsourced at the end of the year, and I've gained 50 pounds since starting this job and I'm just not happy. What happened? I don't know - I grew up, I guess. My personality changed a bit, I evolved. Even if I -LOVED- this job (which I did), the reward wasn't good enough.

So, I'm going back to school to hopefully become a respiratory therapist with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences. That will give me the things important to me:
- Stable job opportunities.
- Room for variety (I can work in a sleep clinic, an elder's care home, the Emergency Department, become an anesthesia assistant, or teach).
- Excellent pay (making $20K more a year in my first year than at the job I've been at for 6 years).
- Interactive and hands-on with patients but not to the degree of a nurse.
- Active, being constantly on the go rather than sitting at a computer for 8 hours.

Will I love it? Maybe. Maybe only sometimes. But it gives me everything I do love ALL the time, so the times I don't like the job won't matter much because the rewards will be greater.

I don't think Vex is saying to choose something you don't like just because the money is better - but to be realistic. When I first got this job, I thought I could afford $1400/month for rent because hey, I'm getting $2100/month. Now I know, with my car, my cell phone, my cable bill, I can only afford $700/month, and with the dog, only $600/month.

Definitely choose a field you enjoy and investigate the various avenues within that field you could go in to.

I knew I wanted to stay in health care. I love helping people, I love being in the hospital (as an employee, not a patient lol), and I love biology and science in general as long as it doesn't involved math (lol). I knew I didn't want to be a nurse or a doctor. I wanted something clinical, not clerical. I'm not great with needles to a lab tech wouldn't be for me plus the pay isn't that much better. I considered being a cardio technologist, and while the difference in pay between that and a respiratory therapist is only $1/hr, and the schooling is only a third of what it takes to be an RT, there's also no room for variation. It's a job, not a career. So that was out.

Never close your mind off to other possibilities, too. You're still so young - you have an entire lifetime to figure it out. Most people don't stay in the same career their entire lives these days, so don't worry if what you want to do now isn't what you want to do when you're 20. Just try to get the GENERAL idea of what you want, and go from there :)

02-22-2012, 07:35 AM
IMO there is always a balance... do what you love, with realism.

If I had no career concerns after, I would've majored in classical studies. Instead, I did teaching English as a second language (allowed for travel but very employable).

If you love fitness, there are so many great options:
Dietician* (as opposed to nutritionist)
Physical Therapist*
PE Teacher
Business (THIS is a critical focus for a potential personal trainer)

If I were you, young & eager to start, I would be sure to take some business (marketing, advertising) alone with the core components of physical sciences -> a guidance counselor will have more good info for you.

Good luck!

02-23-2012, 02:45 AM
I agree with some of the something you enjoy but be realistic about options after you graduate. I am a university student, and if I studied what I am really good at academically, I would have a business degree and be an accountant. That's not for me, so I am actually working on my bachelor of social work degree, which interests me a lot more. Job prospects are good where I live (in a rural northern area with a high Aboriginal population) and salaries are pretty good. I want to go on in a few years and get my joint masters/law degree and work as a human rights attorney. dream has always been to be a police officer/pilot, which is what motivated me to lose 100 pounds in the first place, and for awhile I was a police recruit. I got deferred a year and was encouraged to reapply, but I went back to school instead. I am glad the force doesn't have an age limit, and I may try again someday. I will have a job (they post you to one of their detachments [like precincts] when you graduate) that will pay less starting out than my social work job will, but still enough to live on. If that dream doesn't happen, well, at least I'll still have my education to fall back on, which, while not being my ultimate dream, is something I can still be passionate about and love doing.

02-23-2012, 01:54 PM
I would be the first person here to stand up and say study something you love, but I also know that you have to be realistic (as many others have stated). I went to a private liberal arts college and I studied Liberal Studies in the Great Books (which is basically philosophy, literature, history, and theology all together--it is the classical liberal arts education in a nutshell). Yes, I could have gone to a state school and saved money, but I chose to go to the college I went to because I lived at home and saved over $10,000 per year and I had a decent academic scholarship. Then, I was just lucky enough to go into college undeclared and discover a major I truly loved (which is offered at less than 10 universities in the US).

BUT, I did all of this knowing I wanted to continue on after undergrad. I knew I wanted to go to law school. I'm now a 2L and I absolutely love law school. The job market is tough right now, as with almost everything, but people are always going to need lawyers. The downside is that law school is very expensive, but I'm getting my Juris Doctorate and you get what you pay for and work for.

Basically, being realistic can look different for everyone and I maintain that you should choose something you love to do. You just need to have a plan, goals, and a clear understanding of what you can accomplish with your chosen degree. If the prospects don't fit into what you really want from life, then you need to reevaluate, but eventually you will find your way!

02-23-2012, 09:01 PM
I'm a professor at a small college and I have this conversation with advisees all the time. In many cases, a college degree in and of itself can be an entree into a job -- a liberal arts degree is teaching communication and critical thinking skills which can translate into many professions. Not to mention the things you do outside the classroom -- e.g., leadership opportunities, study abroad. So you may be able to study what you love in college but then be more realistic when it comes to getting a job. But you have to think that the "degree" isn't the same as the "major".

02-24-2012, 05:52 PM
I agree that people nowadays are much more likely to change, sometimes completely change, fields once maybe more during the course of their working years. I'd suggest talking to people already established doing what you have an interest in doing. You'd be surprised how willing many professionals can be to give you insight and tips. A mentor is an extremely valuable thing.

Money is much easier to do without when you're younger and starting out. I've found what I need and want as far as working and a job is concerned, has evolved.

02-25-2012, 05:45 PM
That sounds great! It's always wonderful to be able to do something professionally that you genuinely care about and can relate to. Good luck!