In some ways, our culture measures success in one’s ability to be decisive. These people are those that have always known they’ve wanted to be teachers or doctors or politicians since they were kids. It’s easy to think that the people in this category have a clear advantage in life. They know what they want to do and they’re often very prepared to follow their path, and successful. However, this is not the reality for many students. Why? Because our culture has changed. Our times are increasingly uncertain, pressure and competition in college admissions is higher than ever, and the amount of choice can be overwhelming.
So it’s not only okay to be undecided; it’s completely natural. But it’s not an excuse for being lazy. Being undecided doesn’t necessarily mean being unfocused.
Many students have a variety of interests and haven’t yet found the path that will allow them to combine them all. Allowing students to accept their indecision will help clear their minds and alleviate the crushing pressure to have a linear path.
These days, paths can be increasingly un-linear, and that’s okay. In fact, not choosing a major right away can be beneficial to students because it allows them to keep an open mind and be exposed to a variety of different fields. How many stories have we heard about lawyers leaving their firms to become pastry chefs? The mind is not something fixed, and it doesn’t want the same things all the time. We need to teach students that the childhood dream of being an astronaut may not always pan out, but that’s perfectly normal. Otherwise, we’d have way too many astronauts!
College is not about confirming things you already thought about yourself and the world, but learning new perspectives, trying new experiences, and engaging in different communities. Staying on the path can even be counterproductive for certain students, because it pigeon-holes them and closes their minds to new things. So this narrative of “my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather were doctors, so I’ll become a doctor,” often leaves students unsatisfied and wishing they could carve their own path.
To sum it up, a student can be undecided but still have a path. However, it’s important to realize that the students that will be the most successful will be the most adaptable, spontaneous and open-minded, not insisting too much about how the path will look in the future, but taking the time to evaluate how the path feels in the present. Being undecided is not necessarily bad, but rather it may just be honest. It’s up to parents and educators to leave students the choice of not yet choosing, and let a path form organically.
For more help with finding the best path, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!
Neal Schwartz, Owner
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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