Decisions, decisions: The pressures of life after high school

Decisions, decisions: The pressures of life after high school

Photo credit: Ella McCarthy

By Editorial Board

With all of the career opportunities available for high school graduates, seniors often find themselves feeling overwhelmed with making the right choice for what comes next. Whether it’s picking a college, entering the workforce, or any of the other seemingly infinite options, seldom are seniors not carrying the pressure of decision making. 

Practically every senior has been faced with the age-old question, “Where are you going for college?” The pressure to have an answer can only increase once students start talking with their peers who have confidently made a choice. Hardly anything rivals the pressure students put onto themselves. The desire of crafting the perfect essay, getting into a prestigious, big name college, or earning impressive scholarships, all can be worn like a shiny badge of honor evidence of years of work. But why should we feel rushed to make a decision that can so heavily impact our future? Having to juggle going in or out of state, choosing a path of study, or qualifying for loans and everything in between are all choices made with fingers crossed hoping that the pieces will fall into place.

There are many aspects that complicate decision making for students. The daunting cloud of student debt can deter students from picking a college, or the educational appeal of that school can reel them in. Others may go right into the workforce, but are unfamiliar with how to properly manage the money they’re earning. Generally, teenagers are still navigating who they are, quite literally taking self-discovery quizzes through Naviance to try and find out. If they don’t know who they are or what they want, how are they supposed to decide if they should invest their time and money into that one school? Or start working as opposed to getting a degree? Or head off to explore another state or country? Making that choice for oneself at such a young age can often make students feel ashamed and disappointed if they don’t know the right answer for themselves. indicates that the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25, so who’s to say the final decision of the 17 or 18 year old is the right one?

While it’s impossible to avoid significant decision making throughout life, the pressures of deciphering right from wrong for our future is immense. We aren’t granted the luxury of infinite time to make decisions, after all, it would likely just be another stressor of falling behind if you don’t. However, in the midst of all the pressures, it boils down not to where you go, but what you do with where you go. Allow yourself to be forgiving and learn from your mistakes, let trial and error happen. As much as we’d love to just run and hide from making these big decisions for ourselves, seeing it through is ultimately where we can truly learn what is right for us, and what is not.