I’ve come to that time in my life where I’m being told that the choices I make in the coming months will shape the rest of my life. Now I don’t have other experiences to compare this to but at the moment this feels like a crap ton of pressure and information being force fed down my throat by 50 different people, all with their own opinion. That’s 50 different opinions that all consider themselves the most knowledgeable and benefitting. Me? I just wish everyone would stop talking for a minute and ask what my opinion is.
I recently started an EPQ(Extended Project Qualification) on mental health in secondary education in the UK which has highlighted the effect that education has on teenagers today. In the past 25 years the rate of anxiety and depression in teenagers has increased by 70%. Of course this will not be completely down to education but considering most teenagers spend 7 hours a day for 6 months a year in school I would be foolish and ignorant to say it doesn’t have an impact. I’m noticing this impact more now than ever. In the last year or so I’ve become a much more aware person- of the world, of my peers, of myself- and I’ve definitely seen the effect it has on teenagers but it’s not going to stop anytime soon. The new education policy introduced last year will certainly have no benefit on this. Coursework has been eradicated from most subjects meaning that students will get their entire grade from a few exams at the end of the two year course. This doesn’t even effect my year but it worries me that the pressure I and others in my position feel now will be planted on students at an even younger age.
I’m noticing in most people I know that are going through the same thing that there’s just so much information being thrown at us that it’s all just a bit overwhelming. I appreciate all the help that people think they are giving but actually unless I can somehow use it to relate to what I want to do in the future it’s pretty much pointless.
I realise that I probably sound like I’m exaggerating and being completely ridiculous but these days there is so much expectation to go to university and then get a successful job that can earn you a decent living which in my eyes is complete bull.
So… my opinion?
I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life career-wise. I enjoy the subjects I take at A-Level but I take them because I think they are interesting and the knowledge can benefit me in everyday life, not because I want to make a career out of them. As much as I love psychology I really don’t want to be a social worker or a psychologist or a counsellor- which are some of the recommended jobs for a psychology degree btw (I’m not just being stereotypical). I commend anyone who does because, damn they can be tough jobs, but they’re not for me.
I’m also not all that thrilled by the thought of university. Most people I know who are looking at universities are super excited for the independence of being away from their parents for the first time. Boarding isn’t quite university life but I learnt to live on my own a long time ago and it’s not something that I want anymore. If anything I want to live at home with my family for a bit- at least for a year just to see what that’s like lol.
I also don’t want to do another 4 years in full time education. I’ve spent the last 13 years in education. I want to feel like I’m actually doing something that’s not just expanding my knowledge with information I will forget as soon as I leave that exam hall in a year’s time. I love school, I really do, but I want to go out and do something else now- I just don’t know what that something else is yet.
If I could do anything in the world without the need for qualifications and money wasn’t an issue I would go travelling for a few years. I would get little jobs around the world to pay for my next destination. When I finally feel like I want to be serious and get a full time job I go into interior design. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work like that. I don’t have any arty qualifications and these days everywhere expects you to have a degree and experience-both I would struggle to achieve without the other.
When I listen to what my teachers, family and friends are trying to say to me it’s almost like white noise now. I know what they’re going to say and I already have my responses on standby. Yes, I know what courses I can take. Yes, I know which universities offer my potential courses. Yes, I know that a lot of jobs want a degree of some kind. Yes, I know that your son is doing a degree in psychology so he can give me advice. Yes, I know that apprenticeships are probably the best way for me to go. Yes, I know which websites I can use to find apprenticeships in my area. No, we don’t live in an ideal world. No, we can’t all live our dream lives and have the job of our dreams. Yes, I know this but yes, I’m still being naïve and hoping I can.
I’ve never had to think about the future before but now its 18 months away and the world and his wife expects me to have it all planned out. Now that I actually have to leave what has been my comfort zone for almost a decade it’s really freaking me out.
If there is one thing I could ask all teachers and parents who are trying to help their child make this decision it’s to let them think it out for themselves. Offer advice and support but don’t just give it. Don’t ask what they’re doing with their life every time you pass them on the stairs. Please help them but please don’t pressure them.