Who decided that the teen years are a good time to plan a future?

I’ve always wondered why the school system expects teenagers to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Something I’ve never understood is why schools pressure kids to pick a University major when they’re seventeen? Or in the case of Mikaela, sixteen. She was sixteen in grade 11 when the dialogue from her school counselors started to turn toward: “Pick the proper classes NOW so that you graduate with what you need to go into University for” AKA the rest of your life.

Sixteen? Are you kidding me? That’s crazy. Think about what you were doing or focused on at sixteen. All I could focus on at that time of my life was when Duran Duran’s next single was coming out and whether or not I would get a part in my high school musical. I sure as hell wasn’t planning my entire life, or thinking about what I was going to go away to school for. How are sixteen year old kids expected to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. That’s just nutty. Also, it’s a tremendous amount of pressure, most of them are just starting to get their acne under control, never mind decide who they want to be day in day out for the next 70 years of their lives. I’m forty-eight, and I have honestly had five, maybe seven careers that I’ve not only loved, but have thrived at. Why I changed out of them either had to do with circumstance; moving, babies, dry spells, or just the fact that new interests sparked within me. Whatever the reason for me moving on and dabbling in so many things that ignite a passion in me was the bottom line was always the same. It was because I changed. I was different, and therefore wanted to try something else. I’m sure you have similar stories about making a career change, or at the very least thinking about it.

Since we’re all complex beings, ever changing, with so many interests, and in a constant state of learning about ourselves, year after year, I have this one question; is there a better way to guide our children into their future lives?? It truly makes me go “hmmm” as I listen to Mikaela, her friends, and friends of mine who have kids at the same fork in the road of life, which is the: “WHAT’S NEXT FORK?” Where do they go from here? Degrees in hand, what’s next? I wonder this especially about the kids who went into University “on the fence” with the major they picked. I find the kids that know exactly what they want to do; medicine, law, architecture, who are passionate about these types of careers to be absolutely fascinating. They’re ready to hit the ground running when they graduate. And for the most part there are plenty of jobs in their chosen fields, lucky them. But aren’t the kids who “just pick something” and go off to University for four years more the norm than the ones who go in knowing exactly who they want to be when they grow up?

I’d say, judging from the three I have, two of whom are not in careers that were what they got their degrees in, that it’s more likely that a kid will come out of University and go into the world and have a completely different occupation then what they went in for. Which has me wondering, what do we do with the kids who pick majors, knowing full well they don’t know where or what they want to be even heading into graduation? Wouldn’t it be great if we set schools up to acknowledge and support these kids more thoroughly, and without judgement? It’s a lot of pressure to be the only kid sitting in a group of peers who seemingly have it all figured out when you don’t. I mean hell, I’m constantly falling in love with the knowing that I can be anything I want to be when I grow up, I love having the freedom to make a change in my life. Why do we need to be labeled, packaged and shipped off so young??? Can there be an interim school? I don’t know, a place where young people who are on the fence between many passions could go be “hands on” and see which job is the best fit for them? I know there are internships available, but they have to apply for these, and most don’t get hired for the one they actually want, because competition is fierce. So how do we bring back “trade schools”? A place that houses a whole whack of careers under one roof, that the students can rotate through during a school calendar and then come out at the end of either a one, or two year program with a clearer understanding about what they want to do for Phase I of their beautiful, one life. How do we do this, and why aren’t we doing it already???

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.