What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that’s fun to think about when you’re a kid, yet so daunting when you’re older and have to answer it.
It’s worse when you must come up with those answers before you’re even old enough to vote. Growing up is hard enough for most people to think about, especially when the comfort of childhood is fleeting. High school students that choose to apply to college are making a decision that will cost them tens of thousands of dollars and four years of their lives.
During my senior year of high school, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue or what subject to major in. Throughout high school, my career plans changed from becoming a teacher to a lawyer or working in a management position. I even thought about being an engineer for about a week or two. Without any idea of what I wanted to do with my life, that also translated to having no idea what college to apply to.
Because of the stress, I said things to my family that I regret to this day and jumped the fence on choosing a major, all because of the pressure put on me to make a decision before graduating high school. I was all over the place and the only thing I knew was that I liked to write but I didn’t want to be an English major. This led me to study journalism at VCU. Now I’m a sophomore second-guessing almost every decision I’ve made since I sent my first college application.
Even though I’ve come to appreciate the art of journalism and find it fascinating, I’ve also discovered it’s just not for me. It’s exciting interviewing people and learning new things about a topic and then turning it into a story to be read by many. Yet, they teach us in class that journalists must be objective in their reporting. I just can’t do that. While there are opportunities for non-traditional and non-objective viewpoints in journalism, I still don’t know if this is the career path I want to take. Coming up with a new story idea every week has become more of a hassle that makes me not want to pursue this. These are things I never considered before I made my decision to study journalism.
I know I’m not the only student panicking over what they’re doing with their life. A good number of people don’t just come to college for themselves, but because it’s a cultural expectation. It’s an expectation that we get a degree to make it anywhere in life. Often from that pressure, we rush into making decisions that are not our own or well thought-out — leading many students like myself to be unhappy and stressed. No matter what decision I make, as a society we need to shift away from expecting hormonal teenagers who haven’t even reached the legal drinking age to decide what they want to do with their life before they’ve experienced half of it. College isn’t the be all, end all and not knowing what you want to do doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.
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