Hopson: So much planning, so little time


Students must think about their future from a young age. Columnist Alexa Hopson argues that high school does not prepare students for profession decisions in college.

Alexa Hopson

One of the most-heard questions that any child will hear is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” So as humans, we’re forced to think about our future from a very young age. Most kids say the typical things: teacher, doctor, firefighter. But there are so many more jobs out there than we even realize. In elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher because that was the job I was most familiar with. As I got older, I started having unrealistic dreams of being a model and an actress (like, what? I couldn’t even act). I just didn’t know what real-world job I would be good at and enjoy. In high school, we all learn basic knowledge, and then we’re thrown into college and expected to figure out what we want to do with our lives in only a few years. Is four years really enough time to plan for the rest of our lives? Or should the planning start sooner?

In Switzerland, right after primary school, kids go to secondary schools based on their intended future careers. That way, they learn about the field of study they chose early on and can switch to try out different career paths for the rest of their high school years. So by the time they graduate, they will have a better understanding of what they’re good at in the professional world and whether or not to go to a university to further their education. Now, I’m not saying the United States should do exactly that, but I do think that we could offer more diverse classes in high school, like some that are offered in college.

I feel like having more options of classes to choose from in high school — and even middle school — would have given me a better understanding of what I want to study in college. For me personally, I was voted most likely to become a fashion designer in high school. That’s not exactly what I had planned on pursuing, so I took general classes my first year of college and it felt like high school all over again. By my sophomore year, I just decided to go into fashion design since that’s what I seemed to be good at, according to my peers. My second semester I switched to fashion merchandising because — what do you know — I couldn’t draw, and I knew that. I never took an art class in high school because I wasn’t artistically gifted in that way.

Every day, though, I second-guess if this is the right career path for me.  I only have a limited amount of time to get the education that will guide the rest of my career. I always wonder if I should get a minor in a variety of things just in case fashion merchandising doesn’t work out or it’s not what I enjoy. I just wish high school would have better prepared me for the real world.

I know I’m not the only college student who is freaking out because they feel like they have to figure out their lives right now. Maybe instead of cramming the planning of our careers into four years, the education system should gradually expand it through high school and college. Right now, all I want is to be learning about information and skills that excite me. I want to be able to plan for my future by knowing what I want do to.

It is a debatable topic whether to continue with school or not if you have no idea what you want to major in. Should students graduate with an associate degree in liberal arts and get a full-time job before going back to school to major in something? Or should they stick with school and take random classes until they find something they enjoy? If money is a huge issue, by all means, go with the first one. But I truly believe that you should stick with school and dabble in as many things as you can until you find something you are truly passionate about. As one of my favorite writers, Oliver Wilde, said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”


Alexa Hopson is a sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design from Grimes, Iowa.