Oh, (the Questions about) the Places You’ll Go!

The first semester of senior year is stressful enough. Being pelted with questions about your future only adds to the pressure.

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Maddie Harris

As seniors walk the halls of NASH, questions of college and their future are seemingly unavoidable.

Maddie Harris, Arts and Entertainment Editor

It was 7:19 on a Monday morning, and I was walking to my first period class with one of my fellow classmates. It was early enough as it was (my mind is not up to speed until around 10 at the earliest, especially on a Monday morning). As my friend and I turned the familiar corners of the NASH hallways, heading to study hall, I heard an unfamiliar voice shout suddenly across the hallway in my general direction.

“Are you applying to Grove City College?”

Confused and taken aback, I gave the teacher, whom I did not recognize, a blank look before I panicked and said back quickly, “Uhh, maybe!” As I walked away and replayed the scenario back in my head, I glanced down at my shirt, as I realized why she made that comment: I was wearing a GCC sweatshirt.

Lately, similar encounters have happened to me much more frequently than they once did, and my answers get less and less descriptive as time goes on. No matter where I go or who I run into, the top questions always seem to revolve around college.

“Where are you going?”

“What are you planning to study?”

“Have you applied anywhere yet?”

I get it — I’m a senior, and it’s an easy conversation starter or a small talk filler. So I’m sure I’m not alone, fielding these sudden questions not only at school but at doctors’ offices, family gatherings, and any other gathering including people older than Gen Z.

I’m sure I’m not alone, fielding these sudden questions not only at school but at doctors’ offices, family gatherings, and any other gathering including people older than Gen Z.”

Honestly, I am in no way bashing those who ask me such questions, for sometimes I am in the mood to answer. But most of the time, I am exhausted by the topic, and college is the last thing I wish to discuss. 

Being a senior in high school is a difficult job. The pressure and responsibility placed upon our lives is heightened more than it has ever been.  On top of the normal high school responsibilities and part-time work, we now have a huge weight placed on our shoulders — our plans following graduation.

The word “college” can, on particularly trying days, trigger my anxiety. The amount of preparation that goes into the admission process is time-consuming and downright stressful. Choosing majors and minors, visiting and researching colleges, completing applications, and writing essays, we watch the days fly by as application and decision dates inch closer, never truly feeling ready or prepared for what’s to come.

The worst part of the entire process is never feeling like I have enough time to complete all of these tasks. Trying to complete school work and college applications takes a great deal of time and effort, testing my mental capacity. Add the challenge of keeping up with sports teams and school extracurriculars while essentially planning out the rest of my life, and I’m overwhelmed.

We have always thought of senior year as the most exciting year of high school. That’s what we have been told from older friends and family members, our last year of high school, our last year living at home and being a kid.

What we don’t hear as often is all the stress, planning and effort that goes into at least the first half of the year. 

So when people ask me what my plans for college are, what I should say is that I’m working on it, though I often freeze up often when these questions arise, simply because I cannot give a simple, solid answer. My mind changes faster than the minutes on a clock, and I can only keep up for so long.

But maybe that’s the fun of it, planning out what I want my life to look like at my own pace, on my own time. One minute I want to be a journalist, the next minute I want to be like Aaron Hotchner from Criminal Minds. I am planning my future one day at a time, and that is fine by me.