Credit to Jordyn Lahm
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” seems to be a question that students have been asked since they graduated kindergarten, but now as high schoolers, the question has become a much more pressing issue. Students are pushed to decide what they want to pursue as a career before their senior year is over, but is the pressure they receive as beneficial as people might believe?
Many students promote the idea that it is not completely necessary for high schoolers to choose their career path before graduation because change is inevitable, especially when it comes to long-term life choices like choosing a job.
“I don’t think it matters if a person knows exactly what they want to pursue by the end of high school. People grow and change, and with that growth, people’s aspirations and goals change. I think that society as a whole expects seniors in high school to have their lives together and a plan for the future. This expectation is a huge one that is not always met,” said sophomore Joi Burgess. “Because of this, it creates a feeling of failure, leaving one less motivated to fulfill their potential, when, in actuality, it’s okay to not be completely sure what you want to do. After all, we’re still teenagers and have to learn who we are and what makes us happy.”
Sophomore Tina Idibouo felt the same.
“I feel stressed about choosing a career all the time. Even though I’m just a sophomore, it’s something that I worry about a lot. I think about how if I choose a certain career or path now, and I end up not wanting to do it in the future, I might not be able to change it. I also don’t know what I want to do so it’s really stressful because I feel obligated to at least have some idea,” she said.
Senior Kylie Jones agreed that students should be allowed the chance to grow and discover what they truly enjoy before having to make a final decision about their future.
“Personally, I think it’s beneficial for teens to start thinking about what they want to do career-wise around their senior year. However, I do believe that people change, and it’s totally okay to not know what you want to do after high school. I thoroughly believe in the universe having a plan for everyone, and I feel as though teens should pursue whatever makes them happy and the pieces will fall into place as they please,” said Jones.
Senior Taliyah Smith brings up that the pressure that’s put on students to plan their futures out at a young age can cause feelings of frustration and defeat.
“I don’t think it matters if a student knows what they want to be by senior year because sooner or later your mind changes as you grow older, and it just forces teens to think they should have life figured out by then,” Smith said.
A majority of high school students experience stress surrounding planning out their future. A source of this stress comes from a number of factors, such as families and teachers.
“I think teens are stressed because adults tend to look down on teens that don’t have a set plan yet. It is sort of frowned upon to not have an idea of what you plan on doing in the future. Also, speaking from personal experience, I am a senior and I am stressed out enough. I have to worry about my college plan, financial aid, my job, and taking care of my little brother,” said Jones.
Other students believe that it’s nonsensical to expect children to make such a huge decision for their future.
“I think it’s completely unreasonable for students to have to choose their career path so early in their lives. High school students are children and are way too young to fully commit to anything that is supposed to last a lifetime. The human brain doesn’t develop out of adolescence until 25, so children should not be so pressured to choose a career path in high school before they are 100% developed,” said sophomore Maddie Diaz.
Junior Sydney Alphin thought similarly.
“I think it’s absolutely outrageous how, especially nowadays, teenagers are expected to have their whole life planned out at such a young age. We’re expected to find a career that we will dedicate the rest of our lives to, choose a trustworthy college to spend thousands of dollars at, and literally plan the next four years of our lives at the age of 18. I just think 18 is such a young age to plan out your whole life and make such a big decision that will impact you later on,” she said.
The recent events of the pandemic have not helped anything, according to juniors Sydney Alphin and Jordyn Lahm.
“I think given everything going on right now, it’s extremely stressful to think of what I’m going to do after next year,” said Lahm. “For me, it’s hardest to choose something that I won’t lose interest in.”
“Personally, me being a junior and on the brink of becoming a senior at Kempsville, I am completely and utterly stressed about deciphering my personal interests, goals, and future career. I have no idea what I want to do and this is an especially hard time for juniors to go through since this is such an important year for your education, and we are all spending it online,” said Alphin.
Students like Alphin and Lahm believe that they are not given efficient access to resources that would give them information about colleges, majors and careers, and that students could be better prepared by their teachers before their senior year.
“In my personal opinion, I feel this stress could be eliminated by preparing students in their freshman year,” said Lahm. “It might help to have more classes and more information on life after high school.”
Overall, students just hope to be happy, whether they want to plan their future out before graduation or not.
“If someone knows exactly what they want to do with their life and has planned out their entire future…that is amazing, but the people who don’t know what they want to do at all or barely have an idea of what they want to do, shouldn’t feel bad about it,” said Diaz. “As long as a person is trying their best, trying to get somewhere, and are happy and healthy, that’s all that matters in the end.”