“Chose a field that pays well.” Doctor or lawyer is the classic answer, though investment banker seems to be making headway.
“Choose a field that’s going to be in great demand.” Gerontology and physical therapy are good bets given the aging of my generation.
“Choose a field with great security.” Work for the city or the state, perhaps.
“Choose a field where you can help people.” Very noble.
And, of course, that old standby, “Do what you love.” Hey, I like doing crossword puzzles, but nobody will pay me to do that.
But seriously, I have one more piece of advice to add to all those good suggestions above and it’s this.
Choose a career that puts you in contact with smart people, good people, positive people, happy people, constructive people, creative people.
Avoid a career that puts you in contact with stupid people, bad people, negative people, depressing people, destructive people, dull people.
If you choose the former, the people around you will help you lead an enjoyable life characterized by perpetual improvement. Teaching is an obvious possibility here, but any knowledge-based field where learning and progress is prized is a candidate.
If you choose the latter, the people around you may prove a burden, your view of the future may dim, and you’ll find yourself counting the years until retirement. Policemen seem to be at great risk here, along with other people who tend to deal with criminals.
In fact, this is why policemen tend to develop such solidarity with their colleagues; it’s to defend against the big bad world they encounter every day. But solidarity doesn’t bring happiness or enlightenment or improvement. It only brings protection, and limited protection at that.
Bottom line: if you’ve got a good brain, and you want to take advantage of it for your entire life, choose a career that helps you make the most of it, where you’re surrounded by people who can make a positive contribution.