This year, thousands of high schoolers will be entering college. Sometimes I think they have things way too figured out, and am not sure whether that’s good or bad in the grand scheme of things.
For example, I was interviewing an internship candidate who just completed her junior year in high school. I asked her what she thought she’d enjoy taking in college. Her response was not a version of:
“I’m not sure yet” or
“I haven’t given that much thought” or
“I have no clue, just feeling good about finishing out the year” or
“I’m waiting until I get to college to work that out”
She proceeded to tick off two to three very specific careers she was thinking of pursuing: pediatric dietician work, or pediatric emergency medicine, and a third which I can’t remember because I was still in awe after hearing the first two.
College used to be the place that you could spend a year or two sampling courses, musing about majors, optimizing degree outcomes, and generally taking some time to work things out. It was like experiencing an all-inclusive educational buffet and sampling a range of offerings. Now it seems that the pressure is on to have a career path in mind before you arrive.
There are all sorts of reasons why this has occurred, many of them economically driven. Many colleges, complicit in this, pressure students to declare an early major. The risk of not doing so may mean thousands of extra dollars spent on courses that may not ‘count’ toward the final destination.
Overall however, we might be pushing our teens too hard and not letting them swim in the soup of indecision long enough.