Opinion: Too much pressure is put on teens to know their future

High schoolers have too many options to choose from in deciding their post-secondary lives

Luke Wood, JagWire photo editor

It’s like a routine, at every birthday party, holiday and family get-together, the infamous question is asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My go-to answers have been “I’m not sure yet,” and “I still haven’t decided.” As the youngest child in a family with successful older siblings, these answers can be almost embarrassing. 

The indirect pressure from the success of my siblings adds to the direct pressure from my parents. Every time I get a piece of mail from a college or a recruiting email that shows up in my mom’s inbox, the pressure builds. It feels like my life revolves around planning and looking into the future. At times it seems as though there is no living in the present. 

Entering my junior year in high school, I feel behind on both where I want to go to college and what I would like to study. To me, planning my future feels like weighing out an extensive pros and cons chart. When deciding on a college, what is far enough away from a big city that I won’t have to deal with traffic, but still close enough to a Target when I want to go? Is there a college that has an active social environment so that I could relax when I want to, but it’s not so active that I can’t focus on school?

The same pros and cons situation can be applied to my field of study. What can I do that makes enough money while still being fun to do? What jobs will still be around by the time I can retire? Do I want to go into a two-year program or a four-year program?

Fortunately, this year I have made a lot of discoveries about what I would like to do. I have been taking classes at CTEC and trying new things in the newspaper room such as stepping up to the role of photo editor. As the photo editor, it gives me a new perspective on journalism and has taught me how to be a leader. At CTEC, I am enrolled in the Emerging Tech and Intro to Welding classes. Inside the classroom, I have learned a lot about what styles and fields of jobs I can go into. Outside of the classroom, we go on field trips to local businesses that have jobs related to programs that we learn about.

While the road to college comes closer every day, I begin to feel more prepared. I continue to give myself experience and knowledge to narrow down my paths. Knowing that I am getting closer to making a decision makes answering the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question a little easier to handle. 

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