Students are pressured by society to hurry up and pick a career


Gabby Lancaster, Online EIC

The inevitable question of “what’s next?” is often on the forefront of students’ minds, only replaced momentarily by present pressures such as homework, jobs or teenage drama.  Hounded by the constant questioning of adults, dozens of pamphlets from colleges and decisions creeping up faster than they can process, teenagers are overwhelmed by the uncertain future.

The looming unknown of the future is presented to teenagers when they’re children, as they’re asked what they want to be when they grow up or where they see themselves in 20 years; typical responses include an astronaut or the president.  Yet the reality of this question is pressurized as these children finally do grow up and suddenly, they’re out of answers.  No longer are there endless career possibilities sprouted by childhood dreams; rather, a wide array of interests that they’re forced to narrow in order to fulfill the “traditional” college process. 

“I think students have been taught that the college major we pick will define the careers we choose later in life, which creates a lot of pressure in high school around grades, extracurriculars and college majors,” senior Ava Gelling said.

One of the very first things a college application asks is what major students intend to choose.  The problem is that after 12 years in the American school system, students have received such a rounded education that it’s difficult for them to hone in on one subject.  Moreover, why is it so important that students choose their area of study and future career when they’re only 18 years old, fresh out of learning a variety of subjects?

“Teenagers are encouraged to discover a perfect fit for them but in many cases, it’s hard to narrow down an area you are for sure going to thrive in, especially if you have not indulged yourself in every possible interest,” junior Lindsay Edelman said.  

Part of the reason students feel so much pressure in choosing a career early on is because colleges often cater to this prepared mindset.  It’s become the traditional education system as 18-year-olds pick a career, study it, go to graduate school for it and become another asset for the field they join.  This cookie-cutter society preaches success and happiness based on choices you’re forced to make when you’re barely out of high school, often taking the form of a safe 9-5 job or a lucratively rewarding career such as that of a doctor.

“There should not be a ‘one size fits all’ career,” Edelman said.  “Everyone has their own talents and should be able to find a career that makes them happy, but then it might not be the carer that makes you successful.  So it’s important to find the balance between the two.” 

On the other hand, society may be the opposing influence for students and rather than pressuring them, they can positively influence them.  

“Schools, family and society influence a student’s decision in multiple ways,” junior Emily Friscia said.  “Schools give students the opportunity to grow in whichever way they want.  Family supports and helps the student through the process in order for them to succeed. Society, in general, encourages a person to involve themselves and hone into new topics.”

Despite this, the overwhelming thoughts prove teenagers should not have the entire weight of their future binding them down to one choice that they’re not completely sure of.  Students need more time and experience before they decide on a career that will last them a lifetime, and society should be offering them support, not pressure.