Aug 24, 2009

Some Real College Goals

There are plenty of parents out there who seem obsessed with the multitude of college application numbers: SAT scores, acceptance rates, grade point averages…the list goes on and on. And sure, there are many topics to consider when going through the drawn-out process of applying to college (such as picking the right school for you, what to do during senior year, and writing the application essay). But while all these things are important, too often the end result is a lack of vision for the future. We aren’t talking about next summer, or next year, or even halfway through your college career. At the end of the day, all the hard work you put towards going to college should be for one thing: happiness.

Take this example- say there’s a student who is thinking about becoming a doctor. Let’s call her Mary. Perhaps Mary’s parents have encouraged her to go to med school and start her own practice. As high school starts to wind down and the college application process looms larger on the horizon, Mary isn’t sure about what direction she should go in, so she decides to take her parents’ advice and become a doctor. Mary begins to search for the ideal pre-med program, she researches acceptance rates for graduates at the top medical schools, and she even writes her college essay on how she wants to be a doctor.

But when the time comes for admission interviews, Mary is asked over and over why she wants to be a doctor. She may answer generically about ambitions to help people and having a curiosity about human anatomy, but when peppered for specifics, she draws a blank. Mary has never volunteered at a hospital, never taken any classes on medicine, and suddenly, her ambitions seem more like a passing interest than a passion. Even if she is accepted, she may find that her new path towards becoming a doctor isn’t quite what she expected. Unless you truly have a deep commitment to an endeavor as grueling as becoming an MD, chances are you won’t want to actually to go through the process of becoming one.

That long-winded example hopefully illustrated the following point: it’s important to follow your own interests before anyone else’s. If you don’t have a good idea what those interests are, that’s OK! There is time to figure it out if you plan properly. The summertime is a perfect opportunity to pursue potential interests. Volunteer or intern in the fields you may want to work in one day. Try new and exciting things and find out ways to make money by doing what’s fun. Even in college there is time- many people change their major, occasionally multiple times.

The more things you try, the better. Additionally, the earlier you try them, the higher your chances will be for success. The more experiences you have, the more likely you are to find the perfect fit for you. And as the old adage goes, if your profession is something you love, you won’t work a day in your life!

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