The Stress of Picking a Career Path


Ashley Cramer, News Editor

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

     This question everyone has been asked at some point in their lives. When we are younger we can respond with an astronaut or a unicorn and people encourage us. But as we grow older the question begins to hold more significance. People expect us to know where we want to go in life and while so many things are happening around us it can be hard to determine exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives. 

     Deciding on a college major or career path is easily the hardest decision a 17 or 18 year old can make. So many of us are still exploring who we are so feeling like you have made a sound decision can be hard. 

     According to the Department of Education, 80% of students change their college major at least once while 1 in 10 students change their major more than once. Along with personal growth the pressure from others to pick a good career path can contribute to students choosing the wrong major. In a poll of 85 Norwin students, 84 percent reported that they feel like they have experienced pressure to pick a career path. 

     “The pressure I feel from adults to choose a career path makes me not even want to think about my future,” said junior Jess Kessler. “It worries me that I might not have a good or happy life if I don’t get a good job.”

     One of the things that make decisions like choosing a career path so difficult for students  is the fear of choosing the wrong major or career path and being stuck there for the rest of their lives. 

     In a poll of Norwin High School students, one anonymous respondent said that one of their fears is “that I’ll graduate and get into the field I chose and realize it isn’t anything I want to be in for 30+ years. In the event that happens, I’d be paying thousands in college debt for something I’m not even working in anymore.” 

     The fears about financial stability as well as just worrying about if they’ll enjoy the career they chose are major factors in the heightened stress of high schoolers. In another anonymous response a student said:  “I don’t want to regret my choice or just settle for something, I feel that I’m too young to decide what I’d like to do for the rest of my life, there are also pressures to choose a “real job” which scares me and others from fields in the arts.”

     Having to make so many decisions in rapid succession as our high school career comes to a close also creates massive amounts of unnecessary stress that could have possibly been better distributed through time. Having more one on one time with a guidance counselor or even having a career exploration class could be beneficial additions to a student’s school day. Having this type of individualized focus can help to make these important decisions that seniors face a little easier to make. Out of 86 Norwin students polled, 78 percent said that they felt that there should be more individualized focus on career exploration.

     “I believe that it is important for students to take advantage of the opportunities starting in eight grade to build their knowledge about possible careers and explore their possible interests,” said High School Guidance Counselor, Mr. Colcombe. “There are resources available through the guidance office and required classes such as communications for students to take full advantage of.”

     Every student will experience the stress with having to decide what to do after high school. Whether they are going onto college, starting a trade, or taking a gap year there will be stress associated with that decision. The goal of high school should be to educate students and to help them discover what they want to do with the rest of their lives. In the long run it’s most important that students are able to thrive in their environment and be happy with their lives.