Mystery Among Deadlines

The college decision deadline is approaching. By May 1st, many high school seniors will have to have committed to a college or university for next year. It's a time that brings excitement but also angst. Where will I be? Should I go east coast or west coast? Small school or large school? Faith-based or secular? Public or private? While some might say these are "good problems," they also impose legitimate worry. Students in the high-achieving American milieu don't want to fail, and many tend to think that choosing the wrong college may cause failure.

It doesn't help that many colleges require the selection of a major before students even graduate high school. What room does that leave for growth and development? What about letting different classes and experiences shape one's course of study? I find that a lot of the pre-college anxiety is increased by students' belief that they have to have their lives and careers figured out by the time they are 18. But, as many students ask, what if? What if they want to change their minds? What if they end up hating pre-med or enjoying philosophy? What if they just aren't sure and need some time?

Advertisement

In these decision-heavy days, I find that part of my role is to remind students of the Spirit's varied paths. I want to say: Your college choice is not all-or-nothing, your major can change, and you can transfer schools if necessary. Be open to mystery, and don't let the desire for certainty restrict your search for truth, freedom, and authenticity.    

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
2 years 6 months ago
Some comments from my own family experience: Myself - started out in physics, graduated as a mathematic major, spend most of my business career in advertising before starting our own business with my wife. Not one thing I did after graduation used my physics or math education. My daughter entered college as a biology major and after 6 months switched to psychology and has been a teacher ever since graduating. She always wanted to be a teacher and used her college work toward that goal. One son majored in linguistics and music, spoke fluent German and Japanese after living in each country during college and right afterward. Hasn't used either language since his stay abroad right after college and he now develops web sites. Has no interest in ever using these languages again except as a tourist. Learned to program on the job. My other son was an econ major and is now an IT consultant on mobile technology having learned all his computer technology on the job. Never took a computer course in college but now gives presentations on the latest technology to IT professionals. Who knows what you will do after college. Get a good education and work hard. Some times you will actually work in what you took in college but then again you may not.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

James Comey is perhaps a better Niebuhrian than Niebuhr himself.
Drew Christiansen, S.J.November 20, 2017
“Not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable.”
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 20, 2017
I have been trying with all my heart—with all my mind, with all my soul, to live peaceably with a terror that has been grafted onto me.
Robert I. CraigNovember 20, 2017
Image: iStock, (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA) Composite: America
What ought to be the Ignatian contribution to the fight for racial justice, given our mission and our values?
Bryan N. MassingaleNovember 20, 2017