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The Big Question

Q: What's the Most Difficult Thing About Being a Teenager Today?

Laura Zuber, sophomore,
Good Counsel High School,
Wheaton, Maryland

Summer student in courses offered through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
Photo by John Davis

A: "I'd definitely say college, and the race to get into a good one, is what's been bothering me the most as a teenager. I'm only a sophomore but I'm already being pressured about it. I've just gotten back the results of a test that is supposed to be good for estimating one's future career. It advised me to look into a future as (to pick two at random) an economist or a dancer.

"Besides the vague idea that I would like to be a rich and famous novelist one day, my future choice of career never occurred to me. But looking around, I'm beginning to feel very alone. A friend, who is in 9th grade, has already decided to enter the IB Program junior and senior year, a highly competitive, globally recognized program that would guarantee her acceptance to almost any college of her choice. She also knows which college she's going to and what job she wants to have. She has the next eight years of her life planned out. Another friend, an 11th-grader, has got college, graduate school, and her future career decided, as well as the decision to go into the Peace Corps once she's retired. One friend of mine is far more vague; he's only planned out college and narrowed down to two possible careers. Clearly, he's not as prepared as he ought to be.

"As for me, my future is uncertain. I want to keep my options open. There are many different colleges that are open to me: state colleges, art colleges, liberal arts colleges, maybe even an Ivy League college if my grades are good enough. I could choose almost any career--but which one? It's hard enough keeping track of my life now, without worrying about my future.

"Once you've entered the mid-teens, everything seems to happen at once. You're suddenly expected to be an adult, and to make more mature decisions. A dizzying blur of social activity surrounds you--and if you're not careful, your life will be nothing but that. And colleges are beginning to look at you, poking at your brain through standardized testing, trying to figure out whether you're the material they're looking for. Is it a wonder that most of us (myself included) tend to get moody and lazy when the pressure increases?

"I'm not sure where I'll end up, but I do know that no matter what my destination, I'll try my best. Even if I do end up picking a college name from a hat."

Return to February 2002 Table of Contents

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