Most Students Prefer Passion Over Paycheck

Perhaps it's because America's students have watched their parents suffer through jobs that don't inspire them -- just to make a living. But today's students do not seem to be all about the money when it comes to their careers. A recent study shows that 72 percent of students want a career that aligns with their passion, and more than half say that they would accept lower pay and fewer benefits for a job they are passionate about.

"Although today's students are very ambitious, they prefer to direct their energies toward achieving gratification from their work more so than a large paycheck or a high degree of prestige," said Catherine Raines, educational consultant for CPP, Inc. That's the company that does the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), one of the most prominent assessment tests to assist people in determining what they want to do and whether or not they'd be good at doing it.

For this study, researchers interviewed high school and community college students on the subject of career planning. They found that students are very cognizant of eventually going to work. In fact, 81 percent are "constantly" or "frequently" thinking about their future careers, and not one mentioned thinking about a future career "rarely" or "never."

But when it comes to what students are learning from their parents about career choices, it showed that moms and dads are indeed setting an example -- a bad one. More than half of those who responded to the survey said that they believe their parents either "like what they do, but suspect they'd rather do something else" (30 percent) or "don't like what they do, but feel they need to do it for the money" (27 percent).

Watching their parents' discontent, the ever-idealistic students have adopted some distinctive values. They don't see work as something they do just to make a living, but 80 percent believe a career should bring enjoyment and fulfillment into their lives, and 72 percent say that they want a career that aligns with their passion. Students also are bucking the trend that an older generation set, by repeating the phrase, "I don't want to be defined by what I do." Instead, 53 percent of the young people surveyed said that they believe their careers will play a role in defining them as individuals.

Of course, they also believe that their passion for a career will affect their academic performance. Most say that they study "much harder" when they perceive a direct connection between their course work and their planned career, and believe that knowing their ideal career path will improve their college performance.

It goes without saying that many students are defined by their idealism, but unfortunately, many are finding that graduating in a field they love and actually getting a job in it when they graduate are two different things. But they seem to sense that if they're passionate about their dreams, they'll have a better chance of making them come true -- eventually.

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