Four summers ago, when I was knee-deep into researching different majors in different universities, I struggled to find straightforward advisory and cautionary tales told by alumni – at least about college life in general. Fast forward, there still isn’t much Egyptian content to guide the millions of confused and under-informed high school grads.
Yeah, I know.
The whole jammed-up, stressful episode of post-graduation indecisiveness, peer pressure, family coaxes, and utter discomfort – I get it; most of us have been stuck there, in limbo, without so much as common sense guidance. Ah, what I would give to go back in time to mute vain wishes and see flashing signs of warning.
But neither you nor I can reverse time and undo decisions. We can, however, pay it forward to fresh high school grads who are eager to enter, yet apprehensive of, college life. I’m warning you, though; this article is not a bedtime story that your mind can read in a calm, measured tone of voice. For lasting effects, do read in different tones ranging from a strident officer’s authoritative pitch to a trustworthy friend’s pacifying voice.
Do Your Goddamn Research
I wasn’t going to slam this in your face first, because you probably think you already researched all majors of interest. But if you think you ‘know’ what students at the Faculty of Applied Arts study judging from their conventional careers or ready-made stereotypes that your family or friends construct upon hearing the word “artist,” then answer this: how do you expect to take responsibility for your future when, on the first step, you haven’t taken it seriously?
Just as I expected. No answer. You see what I mean now, don’t you?
Before you cross out or add in a major of interest, make sure you’ve at least talked to enrolled or graduated students. Create a list of questions about every bit of information that would allow you to assess and compare this and that major. At least put some effort into making an ‘educated’ guess about what and where you think you’re willing to spend four to six years studying and socializing.
In a nutshell: Carefully and thoroughly research universities and majors to see which one you think you will academically and socially fit in best.
It’s a bit ironic to ask you to worry less about choosing your major – something vastly more important than choosing between French or German in high school. And, unless you have zen-like control over your emotions, you should expect to be worried in the summer before college freshman year. As long as your worry is within a normal and acceptable range (that is, you don’t turn into a white, nail-chewing insomniac), you can be qualified as ‘ready’ to face college life without the threat of chronic anxiety.
Otherwise, let me (a.k.a you from the future) address your gnawing worry once and for all. I know your biggest fear is becoming like your cousin X or sibling Y who still blames themselves for an unforgivable mistake that their lopsided 17 or 18-year-old-self made.
First of all, there really isn’t a ‘right’ choice to be made, only clearly unfitting ones to avoid. Second, you don’t have to plan out your career path yet. So, before you start fretting and wreck your nerves thinking of every possible ‘what if,’ take a step back to assess ‘what is.’ You could grow to like your major or if push comes to shove, change it altogether (there is nothing worse than sticking to your guns when they’re rusty and dysfunctional).
In a nutshell: You’re about to embark on an adventurous ride. Enjoy it. Things will eventually work out, whether or not you worry too much about your best interest.
Neither Money Nor Grades are a Good Compass
Yes, your parents are paying for your tuition, and yes, you (or society) can’t bear the thought of ‘wasting’ your high grades on Archaeology rather than Engineering… But would you rather be submissive and passive or riotous and rebellious? If they start echoing the ‘wasted grades’ argument, try this rhetorical question: “Can’t you see that high school grades are the key to unlocking the doors to many majors and not just the few ‘chosen’ ones?” You might want to support your argument with Sir Ken Robinson’s examples of successful people whose high school performance was never their college major’s compass.
In a nutshell: Only you will live your life, so don’t transfer the burden of responsibility to your parents only to blame them and yourself a couple of months or years later.
I do sympathize with all you high school grads thinking you own the world in that graduation gown. Oh, look at you smiling in those photos, oblivious that your luck is extremely limited in a tough, judgmental society. Such a pity. I hope, though, that you actually follow the three instructions laid out here and don’t blindly go with the flow.
The only authorial voice I wouldn’t mind you following is mine. 😀
Are you anxious over Tansik? If you already went through it, do you have any other advice for highschoolers?