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October 5, 2013

On the Go: Schools can do more to make our lives easier

The Daily Star

---- — Now that I’m a junior, people expect me to know what I want. Where I want to go, what I want to do, and who I want to be. I have no idea, and on the other hand I have too many ideas. 

We filled out forms the other day in school. The form said to bubble in three areas of interest. I think I bubbled in about six. Then it said to pick two possible majors. I selected five. I have friends who can tell me what they’d like to major in, at what school, and with what minor. I know it is an option to be undecided, but it’s not an ideal option. People, including myself, prefer a real answer.

When I tell people I don’t know all the specifics they start to give me advice. Some people recommend I find a job that will give me financial security. But if that involves the 9-to-5 grind until I’m 65, I’d rather not. Other people want me to follow my heart and never grow up. That’s all fine and dandy until your heart can’t pay bills or fill your tummy. Then there’s the crowd who recommend I do exactly as they do. Sorry, Dad, I have zero interest in accounting.

Adults expect teens to know what they want to do for the rest of their life by age 17. These adults are the same ones who don’t let these teens vote or make their own medical decisions. If I can’t decide to donate my own organs, which will only affect my dead body, how am supposed to make a decision that will impact me every day for the rest of my life? Within one summer a teenager goes from managing minimum wages as spending money to managing thousands of dollars of debt with substantial expenses.

To add to the stress of selecting a college, you’re supposed to craft a competitive application. Have a job, play sports, be in clubs, be social, have extracurriculars, volunteer, take difficult classes, excel, and don’t miss a day of school. In your spare time, decide your future. I don’t think we need to lower expectations. I think we should make it easier to fulfill them.

I would like schools to be able to better cater to students’ needs. I think if a kid plays a sport, he or she should get the gym period as a study hall. He or she is getting plenty of exercise already and 40 minutes could really make a dent in homework. I can’t stand when teachers give out busy work to keep kids quiet. Word searches don’t teach anything; never have, never will, and students realize that. Schools should also do whatever they need to do to allow excellent students to build their schedules. I’ve had it happen two years in a row that I’ve wanted to take an extra science and had it not work out. I don’t think that should happen.

I would like it if someday it could be expected to not expect a kid to know what he or she wants to do when all he or she has experienced is the usual high school rigamarole. I think the transition from “minor” to “adult” should be more gradual. I think the school system should be designed with a more helpful attitude toward students. All these things would aid in bridging the gaps and easing the transitions. These things wouldn’t necessarily help make my decisions but it would make my life easier so that I’d have more juice left to dwell on my future.

Katherine Ahearn is a junior at Unatego Junior-Senior High School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at