P classes. Summer programs. Clubs. All of the things we do to prepare for the next phase of our lives. The process is designed to help students identify their passion, the one they choose to pursue for the rest of their lives. However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80% of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, and on average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career.
Students are pressured into deciding on a passion in high school, yet in reality, passions are always evolving and changing.
The pressure to find a passion and figure out aspects of their futures is a burden most high schoolers carry. While some students are able to find an area that they are interested in and can see themselves devoting their life to, others struggle to do the same. To assume that the small amount of life experiences that a high school student has had could determine what their passions are so early in life is unrealistic. Instead, it is the variety of experiences individuals have as they grow up, and their exposure to different perspectives that allow them to find their passion.
While it is an unreasonable societal standard to expect students to find a passion in life early on, students can take steps to find their interests by branching out in extracurricular activities and taking a variety of classes. Through doing these things, teenagers can either find a passion or come to realize subject areas that they aren’t passionate about. Alternatively, students may like a subject, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to pursue it later in life. They shouldn’t feel pressured to convert all their passions into careers.
It would be more beneficial to students to approach learning with a growth mindset, and recognize that it is alright to not start off being passionate about something. Life is about trial and error, and through making mistakes, students will be able to find their individual strengths and weaknesses. This mindset is more conducive to success and will allow individuals to settle into a path that they will truly enjoy. This causes them to be more motivated and see that failure is an opportunity for growth.
High school is meant to be a time of discovery, and an area where students can learn and develop skills that they will take with them throughout their life. A study done by researchers Zax and Rees shows that at least 75% of middle-aged people’s lives right now couldn’t be predicted from what they were like in high school — meaning, that high school, for the most part, isn’t an accurate judgment of what an individual will be like in the future.
It’s human nature to want to grow and change, and students shouldn’t feel either pressured to find an interest or stay loyal to a previously chosen one. Therefore, students shouldn’t be forced to evaluate what they love so early in life, rather they should be allowed to explore passions, and change these passions when they feel like it.