Fear Not the Future

Fear Not the Future

It starts sometime in junior year. All of a sudden, it seems like every adult you meet, every grandparent and aunt and uncle and distant cousin three-times removed, asks you the same question: where are you going to college?

You are, naturally, astounded. You haven’t even taken the PSAT for real yet; how on earth are you supposed to know where you’re going to college? And it’s only going to get worse. By senior year, that one little question has turned into a whole barrage of them.

Illustration by Lizzie

What schools are you applying to? What do you want to major in? Do you want to go to grad school? What kind of job do you want? What do you want to do with the rest of your life?

If you’re anything like me, you just want to scream, “I don’t know! Why should I? I’m only 16, leave me alone!”

But since screaming at strangers and grandparents and distant cousins three-times removed is not generally socially acceptable, you just sort of mumble something about looking at schools in the Northeast and keeping your options open.

That’s when you get the looks. You know the kind I’m talking about: the incredulous looks, the disappointed looks, the you’d better get this stuff figured out young lady looks.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of those looks. I’m getting tired of adults expecting me to have every moment of my life planned out for the next 10 years—and then getting looked at like I’m not ambitious or intelligent or driven when I don’t.

Let’s be real, ladies: we go to Hockaday. We are nothing if not ambitious, intelligent and driven.

But we shouldn’t have to have our minds completely made up. In fact, I think that it’s better to be a little unsure of your future plans.

I don’t know what I want to major in when I go to college, and that’s perfectly okay. College is supposed to be about exploration and self-discovery and trying new things, not deciding freshman year that you want to be a doctor and never leaving the biology lab.

As fantastic as Hockaday’s courses are, college will offer a wealth of new classes and subjects that we’ve never even heard of. How can we decide what we want to do when there are so many things we have yet to try?

It seems to me that locking yourself into one field of study is more likely to hurt than help your college experience.

Just imagine: you decide in high school that you want to major in political science, and for three years of your college life that’s all you do. But in your senior year, you happen to take a class in, say, 19th-century French literature and discover, to your horror, that this is what you really love.

What now? It’s too late to change your major; you’re well and truly stuck. If only, you think sadly, you’d left your options a little more open back when you were a freshman.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with knowing your interests and your strengths. If you think you have an idea of what you want to study, good for you. But keep your mind open.

Ignore the pressure to decide everything right this very minute. You can always change majors, change disciplines, even change schools if you want to. Despite what your grandparents, aunts and distant cousins three-times removed may think, your future is by no means set in stone.