Journal Address

Students should use high school to explore their options for the future


Everyone has been asked this one particular question at least once in their life: What do you want to do when you grow up? No matter what way it’s phrased or who asks it, it always seems to spark some sort of feeling, whether that be anxiety, uncertainty or confusion. It is a seemingly simple question, when in reality, it is more of a double edged sword, especially in high school. Why are students expected to know their entire life plan by the moment, or even before, they graduate? 

There is so much pressure on students to decide what they want to do.  It seems frowned upon to be uncertain or to consider multiple options. On top of schoolwork and extracurriculars, students are expected to also choose their future, like what college and major they will go into or what career they will enter. Seniors often walk into their first day with heaps of anxiety, since it’s their last year. Their last year to “figure it out.” After that, they’re on their own. Most are expected to go to college, but when they are unsure, they seem to be berated with criticism. 

It isn’t very fair. High school should be a time to explore options in a safe environment, since it is much smaller than the usual college setting. Pressure to know what one will do in the future, causes a lot less focus on present work. In many cases, it can create feelings of failure or inadequacy. When forced to choose one or a few things that they can excel at, it can prevent them from finding things they are good at or enjoy. A lot of students are also then forced to work so they can support themselves financially later in life. 

Schools should take this opportunity to endorse club and elective involvement. When administration stresses the importance of trying new things, it can bring a lot of publicity to niche clubs or uncommonly chosen electives. At SHS, there is a large variety of clubs and electives that can help students explore their interests. It is a great idea to try out activities that sound interesting, even if you have never done them before. You never know what you could find out about yourself, whether it be likes or dislikes. 

Students in college also often end up changing their major because they realize what they had chosen isn’t right for them. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of college students change their major at least once in their college years. People are often rushed to choose what they want to major in, but later decide it isn’t the right fit for them. Instead of it being a negative thing, it should be looked at as a reason to advocate for students to take their time in high school to look at their options. In high school, it can be a lot easier, and also a lot cheaper, since it often costs money to change majors. 

Letting students know it’s okay to branch out and not be sure of everything can lead to greater involvement and a more positive outlook on life in general. When they aren’t berated with the impending doom of choosing their destiny, they can realize there is so much more to life than just one path. It is always good to have a plan, but life isn’t linear and things constantly change. 

This is not a jab at those who have it figured out early. It is rare for people to know what they want to pursue in life, but it is a great thing that also should not be looked down upon. It is just a very stressful expectation that can negatively affect a lot of people’s high school experiences. They spend a lot more time worrying about what they will do next, instead of taking advantage of their time to find and explore their interests.