Determining Futures at Fourteen
Mind Yo' Business
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 23:02
As high school students, we were fed the idea that life’s possibilities are endless and that one test could not possibly harm our chances at success—regrettably, this is far from the truth. I had not realized until recently that every class I have taken since my first year of high school has affected my future career path. I am currently frantically devising a 150-credit plan to acquire my CPA, and I am left in constant awe at the importance of AP tests. Frankly, I do not believe that a test I took at the age of 14 should bear any relevance now. Yet, AP tests, along with each of my work experiences, will affect my future professional life.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?,” asked my second grade teacher to each student on “Career Day.” My response to her was “How the heck am I supposed to know, Mrs. Barra? I am seven years old.” Although I was scolded for my offhand response, my reply today would probably be very similar if asked the same question. The modern youth are expected to have a very clear idea of their potential future careers and paths of academic study.
As a high school senior, I fortunately was able to figure out that my core intellectual strengths do not lie in the sciences or the arts, prompting me to apply to several business schools. Although I cannot accurately predict my future profession, I am fortunate that an accounting degree will allow for many different career opportunities in many industries. But, my heart goes out to all those college students who spend over a year focusing their energies on a particular topic of study, then only to entirely switch majors the following semester. As much as I resent the fact that we are forced to commit ourselves to one or two major areas of study at such a young age, we must conform to such a practice or suffer the lifelong consequences.
I recall my feelings of pure agony as I sat through the plethora of discussions at my freshmen orientation session. In addition to the unnecessary topics discussed, I grew especially irate at the talk of “pursuing your dream.” I could not believe that I was hearing the speaker encourage students to spend their first couple of years at college “discovering” themselves and their true interests—was that not the purpose of high school? If I had spent my first two years at Boston College switching my areas of study every semester I would not be able to complete my credit requirements by my predetermined graduation date, and therefore have to spend another year in college—a financially promising situation for BC. Nowadays, it is unfortunate that if we do not enter college with clear-cut goals in mind, we very well may end up wasting thousands of dollars. If BC were a tuition-free university, then I would have no problem with “discovering yourself,” but when time and money are at stake, every single course selection matters.
I recently read an inspiring article in Fast Company magazine, a publication that combines creativity and personality with the business world. Writer Amber Rae shared her personal story of self-discovery and how thinking about who you want to be is linked to deciding what you want to be: “When I look back on my experiences over the years, every single opportunity gave me exactly the lesson I needed to learn at the time. With every experience (and I had a lot of them in a short period of time!), I changed. I evolved. I was pushed way the hell outside my comfort zone. I developed a new theory on work: I realized it’s not about what I want to do with my life—it’s about who I want to be.” Rae touches on the important topic of building character and finding your passion—it is our responsibility to perform a cost-benefit analysis and decide if it is worth the time and money to discover and exploit our passions.