For love or money? How to choose what to study.

How to choose what to study

Here’s a fairly depressing post I found on College Confidential – a forum about college matters:

My parents talked to me today. They were very vague. They didn’t help. They only confused me more.

They said successful people do not do what they like.

Like all the foreign nurses who do not really like nursing, but they are successful and enjoy their success.

Note their definition of successful is money for themselves and families.

Is this true? I told my dad that millionaires do what they like and he said its a lie.

I’m angry, sad, and confused, as usual.

They are not going to approve of my studying abroad or joining advertising club. *sigh*

How do you choose what to study? Do you go for what interests you or for something that guarantees you a job? Or do you just let someone else choose for you?

It turns out that the best way to choose is to pick a study that lights your fire.

A recent study asked 1000 college graduates in Denmark how they had chosen their studies and arrived at two very interesting findings.

1: Study what you like and you’ll get a job you’ll like
It turns out that the people who chose studies they were interested in were much more likely to be happy with the jobs they then got. This is not surprising at all – study something that interests you and you’re more likely to end up working with something you like.

2: Study what you like and you’ll make more money!
But interestingly, people who chose their studies based on interest were also more likely to be happy with their salaries than the people who had chosen their studies based on how much money they could make.

And when you think of it, this is not surprising at all. If you study something that makes you happy you will:

  • Be more productive – because people who like what they do get more done
  • Be more motivated and energetic – because happy people have more energy
  • Learn faster – because happy people do just that
  • Study better with others – because happy people communicate and team-work more efficiently

You will probably even have a better time socially while you study because happy people are more fun to be around than miserable bastards :o)

All of this means you will get better grades and have a better chance of actually getting your degree. Which again elevates your chances of landing a job in your particular field AND of being successful in that job.

Makes sense, no?

I’ve also gotta say that to me, choosing your studies based on potential later earnings seems… hollow. Do you honestly want to spend your work life just chasing money instead of doing what makes you happy?

Choosing based on money is also very far from a sure bet. Lots of people have chosen a field that’s hot and in demand in the business world when they begin their studies – only to find that things have changed once they graduate 4 or 5 years later. The world often changes too quickly for such a strategy to work.

Btw: The initial post on College Confidential is a little sad in the way the poster’s parents emphasize the old “work is hard, it’s supposed to be, nobody ever got anywhere by being happy” attitude. But check out the replies:

“Balance what you like to do with what you need to get from it, but you don’t need to find a career that inspires a passion within you in order to do it well.”

“I always say follow your passion, rather than the money”

“You have only one life to live. Why should you devote it to work that you don’t like?”

“A wise man once said do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

“There are plenty of people who found what they love, who make a living out of it, and who therefore love what they do.”

I could not agree more and it just proves that more and more people are choosing happiness at work!

And if you choose the studies that will make you happy, not only will you be happier at work, you will also make more money.


20 thoughts on “For love or money? How to choose what to study.”

  1. There is nodoubt that the way to go is to follow fun and passion. And even if it does not give a lot of money so what? Sometimes really passionate and happy people do not make a lot of money. They are just pioneers and they do a lot of stuff they find fun without making big bucks. Then afterwards sombody comes along who knows how to market and comercialize the idea.
    But what sound more fun to you, working with how to squeese out money of others creativity or to live your dreams and follow your happiness?
    Sometimes you get big bucks for following your dreams, sometimes you dont. Sometimes you get big bucks chasing money sometimes you dont.

    But if you are to choose between living your own life or somebody elses life I say choose your own life.

    And if you should choose between being rich and misserable and just living a normal life but being very happy I say choose the later. Money is overrated anyway.

    They great thing about young kids is that they still dare to be themselves. Lets all support them!

  2. Here is a small girl that still has her head straight, more power to the youth they are the future. Lets support there dreams

  3. People have different goals for college. Some people go to college so they can get a good job. Those people probably want to choose some area that looks like it would have a promising career. Personally I think that is a pretty stupid waste of 4 years of your life.

    Go to college to develop yourself, expand your mind, develop social skills, etc. Your best bet is to choose something that you can be passionate about and that you find difficult. Your goal should be to expand your capabilities as an individual–not acquire a bunch of knowledge in a field that might not even exist in 10 years.

    Smart people will always have more jobs available than others. If you concentrate on studying areas that will make you smart, you’ll come out ahead.

  4. Regularly experiencing flow by using our strenghts at work is arguably the fastest way to happiness and success. So let’s study what we like! Furthermore, if you choose to study for a profession that currently pays well, what guarantee you that it will do so in the future? Take software programming for example: 10 years ago it could make you rich, but if you study it today the future is pretty gloomy…

  5. I was going to share this with a friend who is going through similar issues, but you don’t cite the study. How do I know this isn’t won’t show up on Snopes next week?

    Reminds me of the “Swedish study” that O’Reilly cited to prove some point about gay marriage. Turned out that the study didn’t really so much /exist/.

  6. “Like all the foreign nurses who do not really like nursing, but they are successful and enjoy their success.”

    This statement is not true to all the foreign nurses. When we studied nursing in college, we are being challenged if we are really committed to the task by the long hours of work as well as the dreadful nurse-patient ratio (1 nurse:30-50 patients). Those who can’t bear the obstacle, surrenders. Nursing in my country is caring first before money. It is just inherent in the lives of the people here the value of caring towards family, especially the elders and the babies. Having a family-oriented culture & the culture of love towards the less fortunate, is the number one factor for that success translated as money.

    Btw, those here whose motivation in studying nursing is money, usually never pass the qualifying exams. And those who pass yet have low-motivation to really care, are forced and have learned to love the profession, by fear of some curse. Superstitions sometimes helps in promoting love towards others…

  7. Choosing an are of study based on money alone is obviously a bad idea. But choosing an area of study with no concern for what the future holds for you is equally stupid. Yes, some people who study what they love get a great job (that’s related to the subject they’ve studied) and have a lot of fun doing it.

    However, majority of people with “unpractical” majors (like, philosophy or literature to name a few) end up in boring low-level administrative jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with what they’ve studied. Unless they plan to go into graduate studies, that is.

  8. It’s true that most people think of success as something which is associated with high income. If we think about it, sacrifice is probably the reason why some have a boring job which they don’t like, but have a high income. just for the sake of giving their family a decent life.

  9. It’s a sad situation for people who don’t enjoy their job. But there is still hope for everyone if they can only realize that they could still have a better life with a job they like.

  10. people who do what they enjoy and passionate about are always creative at work , which makes them very poductive therefore leads to fulfilment and profittability

  11. I’m happy to see this web site on here because it just happens to coincide with a theme I am teaching my students this semester. I like the saying of “Follow your heart and the money will follow.” Thanks again for this great information!

  12. “I told my dad that millionaires do what they like and he said its a lie.”

    I just want to say this child’s thought is certainly not true. The child is very childish actually. The person that could be a millionaire should worked very hard in the past. People always focus on how millionaires enjoy their lives and lived such a happy life with great amounts of money. This is just a result. It is not a process. They might did not like their work, but because of money, they finally continued working on it. Then they got a great success on it.

    I think that people may not like what they were doing until they got a succeed. They got used to it and they at least might not hate it. Therefore, love and money may not in the opposite situation. You can achieve both of it. And that all depends on ourselves.

  13. I am a student of June Said.
    I am study abuot For Money or Love.

    I was theacher in korea. I do’t lots of mony. But one year I lay off my job temparary I visit here to learn about the america. I expect the life of USA is happy.
    I want to have relaxe time and prepare my future…

    For one year I give up my money ( no work) , I spend much money. I will refresh me.


  14. I always hear someone said that nobody can choose to do what they love all the time but they should try to love what they do. But I believe that if someone choose to do what they love, they need not to try.

  15. I think interest is more important. Only when you love what you are doing can you put all your attention to your job. It will make you more creative and more passionate, and even make you not feel tired. Unconsciously, money and success are coming.

  16. My teacher told us if you want to be the best you need to maintain your enthusiasm in any kinds of works. Otherwise, you are just a dabbler. Thus, keeping love your work and most time that will bring money to you.

  17. actually. i’am preparing two licences
    one is finance and the other one is physics and i like finance less then i’m in my final year in finance so i’m about to graduate and i have to choose between the two difrent fields.
    work and gain money or study my passion: physics and having a zipped pocket!!!
    I’am realy confused i don’t know what to choose because my familly isn’t rich and i need money!!
    CAN YOU HELP ME?????

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