What Do Jumping Off A Bridge And Going To College Have In Common?
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Politics and Activism

What Do Jumping Off A Bridge And Going To College Have In Common?

You shouldn't do it just because everyone else is.

What Do Jumping Off A Bridge And Going To College Have In Common?

By the time junior year of high school had rolled around I remember having received multiple letters in the mail about how to schedule my up coming school year. There were checklists and newsletters addressed to every one of 400 students who would be graduating with me. High schools across the nation are following a similar format, advising students to prepare for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, research college’s, meet with career counselors, compare college statistics and scholarships all in preparation for after graduation. This is admittedly an excellent way to help a lot of people prepare, however for some it seems to have the reverse effect.

I was 16 years old going into my senior year of high school, and felt very suddenly ambushed by lists of what felt like mandatory tasks I would have to complete in the next year in order to have any chance at future success. For many this results in hasty decisions on anticipated majors, and 10 year plans. On the contrary my older sister had a 10 year plan since the age of 10 and had completed most of the college prerequisites by the start her sophomore year in high school. This, of course, made the college decision-making process feel all the more urgent by the time it was my turn.

While attending high school I remember hearing all those encouraging statements often enough; the ones that insinuate that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life yet. However it’s hard to take that mentality seriously when you’re also being urged to pick a college, and thereby essentially a very specific direction in life, immediately. After a couple years out of high school, it has become pretty apparent to me that the age by which a person has had enough real world exposure to decide their place in it will vary greatly. Some people are ready to choose a career path by 15-16 or even early, many won’t feel ready until their early to mid twenties or later.

I think one of the most common scenarios I notice of the generation currently on their way out of college and into the professional world, is that we often change our minds after what seems like a bit too late in the game. Students, like myself, might change their majors many times, spending money on course credits that later wont be as useful as an alternative course might have been. Others stick with a major only to find that once they graduate their plan changes, and they land a position doing something entirely different. Still others will follow their plan to a tee only to find that they wish to do something else with their life entirely, and must start from scratch.

The younger generation, that is beginning to graduate high school now seems to have observed this as the number of students choosing to take a gap year appears to be a growing trend. This is likely due to increasing information, along with technological accessibility, exposing young people to the reality decision-making. The evidence is beginning to show that the real reason for planning your future is to go after what it is you want to do for a living, not what anybody else wants you to do, as this is far less likely to result in long-term fulfillment.

Teens the likes of Malia Obama, however, are continuously scrutinized for making such a choice. From claiming that a gap year is an expensive luxury only afforded to the most privileged of children, to criticizing the laziness displayed in the decision to slack off for a year, there is far too much outside opinion being placed on such a personal decision. The possibilities for what a person might do with their gap year are endless, and many of them more affordable and productive than meaningless college years or time spent going back for an alternate degree.

It is true that by the time a person is capable of working and responsible decision-making they ought to begin to exercise those capabilities more independently. But who decided that the only way to do this was to go right back to school once we graduate? It’s peculiar that we can largely agree that it is alright to be an individual and pursue benevolent personal ambitions without regarding outside judgment, just so long as we have spent the first 22 years of our lives following the widely accepted education protocol.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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