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Oracle After Hours: Having indecision about the future is okay


I recently toured Northwestern University. My tour guide began by telling each student to form a circle and say their name, where they are from, and what they are interested in studying. Every person in my group gave a flawless and confident response, like “economics” or “pre-med”, but when it was my turn, the best I could come up with was, “I am not sure yet.” 

Even though I am only a sophomore and every adult has told me that I do not need to worry about my future, I still feel humiliated to admit I do not know what I want to do. 

As we left the college visit, I felt that some of my peers may have had eye-opening experiences and found the place they wanted to be for the next four years. 

For me, the whole experience was terrifying. The feeling of being stuck scares me most about making decisions about my future. Knowing I can change my mind freely makes me feel less nervous about making long-term commitments.

College seems like a prerequisite for the rest of my life, so not knowing what to prepare for is scary when it feels like the “rest of my life” is approaching so fast. Thinking about the future would be much less frightening if I had a plan, but I have nothing. But  It seems impossible for me to make a plan when I have so many interests in careers and places to study.

 I have been involved with performance for a long part of my life and it would be a dream to get to do it as a career, but I always stopped myself because that industry seems so difficult to achieve and I will regret trying if I fail. 

There are also many other careers I am interested in but know nothing about that I would be scared to commit to without trying first, like environmental studies. With all the possibilities for my future that I have considered, loved, and hated, I could not imagine picking just one when the tour guide asked us about our prospective majors. 

Those other students made up their minds so fast and already knew the one thing they wanted to pursue in life, but they were the minority. So many students face pressures about their future from themselves, their families, and their schools. 

A survey done by the ECMC Group shows that 87 percent of high school students do not know what career path they want to follow, showing how widespread that pressure and fear of commitment is. Sometimes that pressure can become worse for the students who go into college undecided, which a Best Colleges article states is about 20-50 percent of students. 

Knowing that many people feel the same way as me about college is a comfort, but it becomes harder when comparing yourself to those other students on the tour.

Next year is my junior year, the year of SATs and college tours, and when I need to start making decisions. Although I am nervous, I know it will be easier when I have seen and done more, giving me insight into how I want to spend my future.

For all the students who feel like me, know that you have time. College is still a place to learn and find what you want to do the National Center for Education Statistics states that 80 percent of students change their majors while in college.  You are not stuck and still have the opportunity to change beyond college. Lindsey Manning, a Marketing Lead, shared her opinions on how college doesn’t determine your life in a LinkedIn article.

“The university you attend is just the first step, the rest is up to you,” Manning said.

 As long as you are supported by those you love and passionate about whatever you are doing, commitment will become easier and the future will feel less daunting and more free.

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