Advice from a senior who acts like her life is together

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College sneaks up on the author. Decisions about the future have weighed heavily on high school students beginning as a freshman.

Nicole Milaszewski

Growing up, students are constantly peppered with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Answers vary from firefighter to princess, but rarely do adults expect children to hold on to their answer. Flash forward 10 years, and the same question is prompted a little differently. It suddenly goes from being something casual to something that weighs heavily on one’s shoulders. How am I, a 17-year-old, supposed to know what I want to do with the rest of my life?

College and careers start being thrown at students the minute they step into high school. A wide list of electives allows a taste for certain career areas and clubs to help expand the palette. As a freshman and even a sophomore, it is often thought, “Oh, I have plenty of time. I don’t have to worry now.” Once junior year comes around, it feels like the timer is about to run out. Other students are visiting colleges, deciding majors and even know the company they want to work for. Their readiness and locked-in goals for the future cause an internal panic when the reality might be that those people are just as panicked as you are.

The true fear sets in as a senior. College applications becoming available so soon brings on the anxiety. In order to pick what colleges to apply to, an area of study must be chosen to make sure they offer a decent program for that. In order to know what area to study, one must have some idea of what career they want. At age 17, instead of worrying about what to wear to the football game, there are worries about where to be 15 years into the future. The pressure is unbelievable; it feels like everything decided now will be final for the rest of life.

The truth is that it’s not final. There’s almost a 100 percent guarantee that it won’t be final, and that’s okay. What’s chosen to be studied in college will not always be the end result. A major does not guarantee a job in that specific field. Deciding to pursue a major as a high school senior will almost never be the exact path followed, but that’s normal. Go to a college that feels like home. Major in being happy.