The beginning of each school year is nerve wracking for most students, especially seniors. The first half of the year is a whirlwind of completing college applications, passing classes, and combating senioritis just enough to get by. As the upperclassmen work on wrapping up their high school careers, it is important to take a step back and reflect. The dreaded question we all push away and hope to never have to answer: What’s next? What comes after the major milestone of graduation? It seems impossible to think on the future when the present is so demanding, but it is necessary.
When asked about a major regret she had concerning high school, one student commented that “looking back, I would have definitely joined more clubs and participated in activities outside of school.” She lamented that she had not discovered her interests until later, admitting “I only really decided what I wanted to do when I took a course for it over this summer.” The student was then asked on whether or not she knew what she wanted to do after college. She fell silent, quietly admitting that she had “a vague idea, but nothing substantial.”
Another senior resolutely stated that he was “focused solely on getting into college.” When asked about any potential plans, the student laughed and answered “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, you know?”
The reality is that many seniors are unsure of the future beyond high school. They become so used to the daily
routine that by the time graduation rolls around, they have not found their true passion. Students take courses out of obligation or to strengthen their resumes instead of out of a genuine interest in the subject. Even with the freedom to choose classes, the focus remains on securing high grades instead of gaining anything meaningful from the course. Aspiring to earn such grades is not a bad goal to have, but it does negatively affect students when the drive to succeed overtakes the drive to learn. Because of this, a large amount of seniors end their last year of school without a true direction in mind.
Luckily, if you find yourself filling out CommonApp, receiving an acceptance letter, or even graduating without any idea of what you want to do past high school, you still have time. According to a study conducted by Penn State, it is estimated that about 20% of incoming college freshmen enter undecided, and 46% of students change their major halfway through their career.
If you’re worried about choosing a career or plan for college, find one that you like and pursue it: acquire a new skill, apply for an internship, or research a new topic you have never had the time to learn about. Change your mind, vary your interests, try everything you can at least once, and if you make a mistake, so be it. College is the time to explore and experiment with different subjects in ways limited by high school. No matter how unsure you are, use the freedom you have now to explore.