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“Continue What I’m Studying… or Pursue Something I Like?”

Your dreams are too important to let a little math get in your way

I’ve spent the last two years in college for a psych degree, but I’m stuck because I can’t seem to pass the math course. Meanwhile, I’m freelancing in a few areas: editing, design, writing, and virtual assistant. Together they combine to give me a basic income, but not enough for the future.
I’m wondering, do I continue to pursue this degree or should I choose one thing I enjoy that I have some experience in, invest in better training, and just try to get a full-time job in that field? I don’t want to give up my dream of being a professional, but I don’t see a feasible path there right now.
Number Challenged


Sometimes, I wonder who came up with college curriculums, and where they are today so we could ask them things like how mathematical knowledge factors into someone being a good psychologist. Until then, let’s see if this piece of paper is something you want to wait in line for.

Clearly, you’ve got a number of skills with proven market value, but there seem to be two things missing from your career: Something with enough long-term earning potential, and something that fits your self-professed goal of becoming a professional.

Let’s explore this. Do you believe that you can only earn a significant amount of money if you’re a “professional”? What does “being a professional” mean to you? If you made more money as a writer with no degree than a psychologist with a degree, would you still feel like you gave up on your dream?

Let’s start with what it would take to earn enough in another field. Each of the skills you mentioned have the potential to be used to achieve a nice income, but here’s the thing: You can have multiple income streams, but you do need to build them one at a time, focusing on building one into a strong, sustainable income before moving onto the next. I’d suggest starting with the area where you’ve got the most talent and can charge the highest rates, which luckily is also probably the skill you enjoy using most as well.

Now it’s time to turn that skill into a full-time job and income. Can you grow it enough as a freelancer to become a small-business owner? Can you partner with others who provide related services and create a co-op or agency? Would you enjoy self-employment, or do you prefer to find an entry-level job where you can gain experience and the benefits of a regular paycheck?

Getting back to your degree, well, what made you choose to pursue a degree in psychology? What do you expect to be able to do with it once you have it?

If you’re pursuing a degree because you were told that is what you’re supposed to do, then you can ask the people who set those expectations what the point is. If they tell you it’s so that you can get a job, explain to them that you already have more than one, and repeat the question.

If you indeed have a specific career path in mind for which this degree is the absolute necessary foundation (like being a psychologist), then it’s time to hire the best math tutor you can find, and get through this class no matter what it takes. Your dreams are too important to let a little math get in your way.

Whatever path you choose, remember: Never let getting an education get in the way of your learning.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1000)

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