Career planning in high school: the detriments to choosing too early

The stress that comes with this type of planning often has the opposite effects on students

As students enter middle school, they anticipate a lot of changes. Many worry about an increased homework load, more intense classes or a new environment. What many young students do not expect, however, is being asked to choose a future college and career at such a young age. As a young seventh grader, when I was told to choose a college, career and future plan for my life, it was extremely overwhelming.

In my tech class seventh grade year, my teacher informed the class that we needed to complete a project detailing our plans for the rest of our lives. We were instructed to find a college, major, future career, house to live in, car to purchase and specific insurance plans we would have as adults. As a twelve-year-old who would be unable to drive a car for another several years, let alone purchase a vehicle, I was completely lost.

After frantically completing the project, I was relieved that it was over, and I would never have to do it again. However, much to my dismay, I was instructed to do the exact same thing in my computers class the following year. I, once again, completed it, not understanding anything I was researching.

This cycle repeated again the following year, in my freshman college and careers class. I picked the same profession, college, and plans as before to make it easier for myself. I was not learning anything new or gaining any insight into what I was interested in doing as an adult.

Finally, this year in my Advanced Composition class, I was instructed to write an essay about the same topic. I spent hours taking multiple career tests, none of which gave me a career I was interested in. I finally decided upon a career that had been recommended a few times and chose a college based upon that. 

On these projects, I completed the assigned work and received a good grade. However, in no way did I discover anything about myself or my plans in the future. If anything, the immense pressure to make important life decisions at such a young age caused me to dread thinking about my future. 

Obviously, it is important to start thinking about college and life after school once you start getting into your late high school years. However, I believe the pressure placed on teenagers to make important career decisions is completely unnecessary. Oftentimes it causes the opposite effect that educators are hoping for. It causes students to avoid planning for the future at all costs, which can ultimately lead to them making uneducated and rushed decisions.

I believe that high school students should be encouraged to discuss and think about colleges and possible degrees but not forced to make any hypothetical decisions. Forcing young teenagers to plan their entire adult lives is completely unrealistic, especially when considering the fact that most adults can not make plans for only a few years in advance.

Teenagers already have enough pressure with grades, extracurricular activities and personal stresses. Is it really necessary to include the added demand of planning the rest of their lives?