You don’t have enough life experience to make definite decisions till your in your late twenties. In elementary school years, you have fantasies about being the next President, being an astronaut, or a professional athlete. In High School you start to find out what you like and dislike. And then you have to go to college. Its not enough time. None of us have had enough life experience at the age of eighteen to know what works for us, what we actually want to do forty hours of week for years on end. It is simply not enough time. This is a problem overlooked too much when people look start planning their future out in their first years of college.
I was also one of these people. I could talk for days about what I was going to do and what my life would be when I was still in High School. The slap in the face was going to college and actually doing what I had always been talking about. The problem was I was missing the experience to back up these claims. There are so many people who go into college talking about how they want to be engineers, businessmen, doctors, physicists, but paradoxically no one at the age of eighteen has ever worked in these fields, or even knows how well they handle the action of work in the first place. Colleges expect students to make educated and well thought decisions in area’s they have no understanding in, only having a vague “feeling” that they would enjoy being a veterinarian. They don’t understand the dollars and cents of these fields and the work that is done. A student will start college in an engineering program loving the math and science involved in being an engineer, only to find that they hate the communication and teamwork aspect involved in working on a project together. A student interested in being a doctor will love learning about the body only to find the long hours and constant repetition of seeing so many different people makes the working feel robotic and soulless. This is not a definite for all people who enter college, but the question becomes: how could you possibly know if you dislike or like something if you have never done it over long periods of time?
80% of college bound students are undecided when first entering college, and 50% of those who do declare change their majors. A regular college degree usually takes around four years, but switching your major in your junior year can add a semester or even sometimes an entire year. Students are arriving at colleges having little knowledge on what they want to do yet are still expected to pick what school they want to attend and start paying thousands of dollars in student loans.
So I’d say it takes a person twenty five years before they can say they know themselves well enough to make well informed major life decisions. At this point in a persons life they’ve been on their own for a while, had a full time job, had a girlfriend or two, paid some bills, and found out their own daily routine that works for them. In your middle to late twenties you’ve seen some things and had to figure out a few problems on your own. You haven’t figured everything out, but you have a good foundation.
This whole idea of having to go to college immediately when you graduate high school works on a numbers basis of trying to get a certain amount of people each year to graduate, but falls apart on the individual case by case basis. What ends up happening is students make ill informed decisions on what career path they want to pursue, resulting in a majority of people having jobs they neither like of dislike, but just kind of put up with. You get the numbers you want, but what is the quality people are getting?
So if you’re in college right now and don’t have a clue about what you want to do or you’re still in high school and don’t know what you want to do, follow that feeling. Don’t feel pressured into making decisions where you don’t know the answer. It is OK to take a year or a couple to live your life and experience what you like and dislike. In the end it will leave you with a better goal set for yourself and a freedom to make an informed choice, rather than making the wrong one and finding out it’s too late too fix it.