November 11, 2022

Many students at Mill Valley plan on attending a four-year college, and though this is the norm, external pressure can be persuasive in determining a student’s post-high school decisions.

For college-bound junior Sarah Anderson, the pressure isn’t just to decide on a college major, but also to decide on the career she wants to pursue.

“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to decide on a career choice very early,” Anderson said.

By Elizabeth Summa

While Anderson has not chosen the exact pathway she would like to pursue in college, she has narrowed down her options to dental medicine or engineering. One way she was able to do this was through various career and college quizzes in middle school Pathways classes.

“Quizzes kind of help me see all of the jobs within the field that I want to go to or within a field of interest,” Anderson said.

Every student at Mill Valley is familiar with the concept of a career quiz, especially with weekly Xello and IPS lessons. However, many students are not aware of the uses that these programs might have to their planning. 

School counselor Chris Wallace encourages students to look at the larger picture of their results on Xello quizzes and other programs. Wallace finds that these ideas can help students narrow down their interests.

“There’s themes that can be picked up on the results, and that can sometimes guide students down a certain path or direction to pursue,” Wallace said.

The search for inspiration is not limited to online quizzes and IPS lessons, but can also be found in family members, real-world experiences and simply trying things. Senior Amit Kaushal, who wants to attend the University of Dallas to major in software engineering, gains his inspiration from his father, who owns his own business. 

“My dad is an immigrant so he did everything from the ground up and that inspires me a lot to one day be able to do things like him because if he can move to a whole other country and do that, I know I can do it too,” Kaushal said.

Similarly, junior Caroline Alley was inspired by family and hopes to attend the Air Force Academy. Alley was motivated to go to the academy instead of a typical university in order to more efficiently pursue her goal of being a fighter pilot.

For Alley, the school’s attempts to bring in military representatives was helpful, but most of her decision was made through individual research.

“When military recruiters would come in I would speak to them, so that did help while I was at Mill Valley, but most of the information I got was self found,” Alley said.

While Kaushal is well-decided on his path after high school, that was not always the case. Initially in his career search, Kaushal planned to pursue medicine, but experience working with geriatric patients at JCCC persuaded him otherwise. 

“I first thought I was gonna go into the medical field,” Kaushal said. “I tried it out and it wasn’t for me. I’m glad I recognized that now instead of actually going into pre-med in college because I saved a lot of money and I saved that time.”

Both Anderson and Kaushal found that the best way to figure out their plans was simply to try things. Kaushal advises that by trying and experiencing different options, students can find the things that interest them and be confident in their planning decisions.

“I think more people should go out and experience things because if you go into a field where you don’t like the job, it’s going to be really hard for you so it’s better for you to do it early on and see if you don’t like it,” Kaushal said. 

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