College applications are due soon. When the first round of decisions comes this winter, high school seniors will find themselves filled with joy or disappointment.
Most students have internalized the notion that the singular decisions, isolated successes and failures we have now, will make or break our future.
In reality, 80 percent of undergraduates change their major at least once, and the average student will change their major three times, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s normal to not know what one wants to do for the rest of their life when they’re 17.
“For a long time I knew I wanted to do something in art, but only recently I decided I would go into graphic design,” said senior Ashley Knight.
The pressure to make decisions that will supposedly affect our entire lives discourages students from taking risks and jeopardizes their health. One in five teens suffer from mental illness, and 90 percent of teens are sleep deprived.
As students, we have this idea that getting into a “good school,” means one of a couple dozen highly selective institutions, when in reality, this country is home to hundreds of thousands of amazing schools.
Senior Justin Pendarvis wants to attend USC to study engineering. It has always been important to him to go to a “big name” school. “I believe access to their programs will help me get a better job,” Pendarvis said. He acknowledges the application process is stressful, but he thinks it is worth it.
Whether students end up at a big name or a smaller school, in the working world, where you go matters less than what you do when you get there.
Who is to say that the student who graduates debt free after transferring to a public 4-year after community college is less successful than the student who will spend much of their post-Ivy-League life paying off loans?
Senior Gretl Warmuth plans to go to a junior college for two years before transferring to a university. “The biggest thing is the money,” said Warmuth. “It’s also easier to transfer into a university than applying as a freshman.”
Success is what success looks like for an individual. We need to stop looking at higher education as a one-size-fits-all scale of success and start looking at it as a highly personal experience that should serve individual circumstances.