Career choices place pressure on students


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While the numerous career exploratory classes and college preparatory materials offered at WHS can be a welcome and beneficial resource to students, these options also come with an implied demand: we need to decide our futures. This message places both an unhealthy and unnecessary pressure on students to choose their career field before they even leave high school.

The strain placed on high school students to decide their careers before graduation is yet another unhealthy stressor in the lives of teenagers whose average reported stress level is higher than the average adult’s, according to the American Psychological Association. This stress can lead to both mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, and physical problems, such as insomnia and high blood pressure. The detrimental effects of the pressures of making early career decisions make this a societal stressor that needs to be eradicated.

Not only is the the urgency high school students face when making their career choice unhealthy, but this insistence is unnecessary. Though many students claim to have found their perfect major when entering college (perhaps as a result of constant pressure to set their future in stone), many later discover that they are on the wrong path and switch to another field. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one-third of college students changed their major during the 2011-2012 school year, with over half of the students in the mathematics field switching to another major. These statistics, which do not even include graduates who earn their degree and later decide on another career, demonstrate the futility of forcing high school students into making career decisions during their junior and senior years.

Some may argue that students need to explore their career options and choose one before leaving high school to guarantee their success in college and beyond. However, success can come in several forms, no matter what stage of life a person decides to follow their aspirations. Vera Wang, who was a figure skater during her teenage years and Vogue editor for over 15 years, is now a world-famous fashion designer. Shaquille O’Neal, whose career fields include everything from basketball and rap to acting and law enforcement, is now a sports analyst on Inside the NBA. Peter Ostrum, who starred as Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory alongside Gene Wilder, is now a successful veterinarian. And we, who are now students at WHS, can find our success no matter when or where we decide to pursue it, making the pressure to choose our career before we leave high school insignificant.