More Than Just a Quarter-Life Crisis

When students are pushed to specialize in a field too early, they are prevented from exploring other interests


Daniela Peñafiel

As students look into their futures, they reflect on their pasts and the goals they once had.

Priya Gowda, Writer

I decided about a year ago that I want to be a software engineer working in computer science. 

Three years ago I wanted to be a journalist. Six years ago I wanted to be a doctor. Nine years ago I wanted to be a fairy princess. 

They say high school is a time to experiment, to find what you like and what you want to do in the future; however, we are expected to have a plan long in advance, especially at this school. We choose our majors at 13 and are then surrounded by it every day for the next four years. With our school days revolving around our art area and hours at home spent perfecting our crafts, we are left with little to no time to explore other passions or potential career paths.

Our visions for the future aren’t finalized once we choose an art area or even after we apply to college with a prospective major. Our interests continue evolving throughout our adolescence; however, we have already been confined by the expectations of our majors, so we tend to automatically neglect opportunities to explore different interests and career paths. We tell ourselves that we have already found our niche and should just stick to it, trapping ourselves into a sense of finality regarding our life course. 

For those who diverge from their chosen art area for their career or who are unsure of what to pursue, there is an evident disadvantage. In terms of college applications, academic officers say that by not declaring a major, applicants may appear “generic” — to stand out, one should have an academic and extracurricular history built around a particular major. It can be hard to break away from your high school concentration to try and explore a new major in college because it may harm your application or future career path. It is especially challenging when it feels like everyone around you has already found their calling. 

People have better judgment and awareness of long-term consequences when the brain becomes fully developed at around age 25. Expecting teenagers to plan out their life and stick to that plan is highly unrealistic. Once our brains are done developing, we have already begun life in the real world yet are stuck in a career path we chose as teenagers.

Our high school years are meant to be spent figuring out who we are and what our interests are before finalizing what our futures will look like. When we choose our niches too early in life, we feel bound to that vocation. 

We tend to forget that we are just teenagers. It is completely valid to not have our entire lives planned out just yet.