graphic by Yasmin Haq
I am the kind of person who needs to have a plan. Even if my whole plan for a free afternoon is to paint my nails and finish reading a book, I need to have one. So once the spring semester of my sophomore year came around, I started to make a plan for my future.
I’m already accepted to Louisiana Tech for my freshman year of college to get my prerequisite classes done for nursing school at Louisiana State University. I’ll get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, work locally for a year, work as a travel nurse for a year, then apply to the nurse anesthesia program at LSU. Throw in hopefully getting married and having a family, and that’s basically the rest of my life.
But who cares?
This whole idea I have created of what I hope my life to become could change at any moment in time. I know that there’s barely even a chance that things are going to work out exactly the way I want them to. According to “Inside Higher Ed,” one third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once in their first three years — STEM majors more commonly than non-STEM majors.
It’s OK to not have a plan yet.
I know people who are going to Collin Community College for a year to get basic classes done at a low price so they have more time to figure out what they’re interested in before applying to a bigger school. I know people who are working simple jobs for a year so they can make some money before picking a major and going to school.
I know people taking Career Center classes to get certifications without having to pay for college and to get a head start on credits for their degrees to save money. There are so many options out there for people who don’t have a plan – so many ways to extend the little time frame we have in high school to make these life-altering decisions.
Even if a student decides in the end that college isn’t the right step for them to take, there are still paths one could take that lead to success without a degree. There are plenty of careers that don’t require a college education – getting an entry-level job with a major company and working your way up and pursuing a career that uses apprenticeship systems for education are both options.
Most careers that don’t require a degree are normally even a better fit for students that would rather work with their hands instead of having a simple desk job, and can have just as much meaning as higher level jobs, with occupations like personal care aides and police officers.
Every one of these paths has value. Kids who are raised to be doctors from birth can be just as successful as someone who finds their passion later in life.
Society today seems determined to persuade young people that they need to have a plan. Start going to KD college prep classes freshman year, take every SAT available, know what major you want to pursue by junior year and apply to colleges with good programs for it. Students have less and less time to live their lives, enjoy being a kid and have fun trying everything they can when they’re in high school, which now feels like four years of a college prep class.
We can do anything with our lives that we put our minds to, even if we figure out what it is we want to do 30 years from now.