It's the time of the year that has every high school senior feeling like April Ludgate of "Parks and Recreation".
Countless questions come flooding in from relatives, counselors, and friends concerning the big c-word: College. It's no surprise that us seniors are expected to know exactly what we are doing with our lives, but the real truth is that none of us do! Even if we have secure, concise plans, life has its way of throwing a curve ball every now and then.
The idea of college is both exciting and terrifying. The pains of paying off tuition, living away from family and friends, and becoming a capital-R Responsible adult are daunting. Yet, college is a new experience, full of expansive opportunities to make new friends, explore career fields and discover who you really are. As seniors pick through the choices and react in unique ways, there is one thing all of us cannot stand: the constant torturous questions. Here are the most common, excruciating picks.
1. Where do you want to go to college?
As simple as this little question may be, it can be one of the most difficult to answer (and answer "correctly"). I know exactly where I want to go and why, but the answer usually disappoints most recipients. Nobody wants to hear NYU, because that entails me traveling out of state, applying to a strongly selective school, and possibly moving to the biggest city in the country by myself. The tuition is extremely high, and most reactions tend to allude to the fact that I may have just picked the most outrageous school possible for its location. Believe me when I say I've researched all top schools for my intended major and sifted through the candidates before setting my eyes on this school.
This is a common problem seniors tend to face. No matter how excited they may be for their favorite college, there will always be people questioning the choice. Therefore, the question alone is tough to answer when you are commonly protruded like suspected terrorist on your reasoning. Another reason as to why the question is horrific is that many seniors have no idea where they plan to go. Let's face it, asking seventeen to eighteen-year-old kids to determine the path for the rest of their lives is a bit much. We've been conditioned to believe our college pick will be a do-or-die moment for us. I've come to realize this isn't quite true, for students can transfer and change majors multiple times before finding where they truly fit.
2. What do you want to do?
First off, this question is pretty vague. What do I want to do? Well for starters, I'd like to take a nap. I'd also like to win the lottery and have 100 dogs. In the context of a college major, the question remains unsettling. I may have a decent idea of what I'd like to major in, but when it comes down to specifics, I'm lost. I have far too many interest areas to narrow it down. I'm eighteen, I can barely decide what to order from Taco Bell, how can I be expected to pick a career choice to settle into for the rest of my existence? I don't see the choices as black and white. Maybe I'll switch my major once, two or five times. Maybe I'll double major or select a few interests to minor in. I may have no clue what I'd like to do for the rest of my life, but I know for sure that I'd love to never be asked this question again.
3. How are you going to pay for it?
Your guess is as good as mine. I may have worked consistently for two years straight for two different jobs, but I'm still just trying to pay for gas. Sixty grand a year? Well, just pile on the student debt! I've come to realize that many teachers I have currently are still paying off their student debt. College is the real ball and chain of life. The majority of high school seniors, including myself, are just preparing to be poor forever. Tuition is at an all time high. Most people asking this question have never attended college when rates were nearly as high as they've become. I believe that all high school seniors, in solidarity, should just immediately start crying when asked this question. Hey, you never know, we may be thrown a buck or two.
4. Are you nervous?
The answer to this is both yes and no. Yes, I'm nervous to live in the most populous city in America, utterly and completely alone. Also, no, because I feel pretty capable of making a few friends (possibly) and finding a routine. When I toured NYU alongside members of their volleyball team, the general consensus seemed to be that the city was safer than most expected. One girl told me she has never once felt unsafe. After all, there's always places to turn when you're in the city that never sleeps. To me, the real question is that: what will I do without my mom? She's always the one to knock some sense into me, or force me to take my vitamins, or to go to bed before four AM. I'm not very confident that I can keep myself in line without her ever-present hovering (side note: just kidding, mom). Most seniors are plagued with both nerve-wracking and ecstatic feelings regarding their plans after graduation. But with such a hard question to answer, it may be best to avoid it in the first place.
5. Will it be worth it?
And finally, the worst question of all. Essentially, the question is asking if it is worth it to dive straight into thousands of dollars in debt, climb right back into four years (or more) of school, and land yourself right into a life that wasn't worth the time or money. The possibility of that is scarier than any horror movie ever made. No senior is prepared to face that probability. Fellow seniors, please know that when you face the question, "will it be worth it?", the answer is probably. I can't tell anyone for sure that their choice will end up settling them into the right path, but for the most part, we will end up okay.
College is just a continuation of the period all young adults face, where making mistakes is expected. If one choice ends up flopping, we can always change majors, or schools, or mindsets (or all three). Life is never, ever, black and white, and college does not have to be a death sentence if you don't want it to be. As for the insistent questioning, at a time where graduation tassels may just as well be price tags, nobody is looking forward to participating in an interrogation about college choices that may just as well be the Spanish Inquisition. Try to become content and confident with the phrase "I don't know". It's perfectly okay to not know. In fact, nobody really, truly does anyways. Life has never been a straight path towards success, but it's the bumps, twists, and turns that place us exactly where we need to go.