The pressures of learning

At a very young age, children are confronted with a question that, even as adolescents, some cannot answer: what do you want to be? Some dream of becoming singers, doctors, actors and or even astronaut. Nevertheless, as the year’s progress, the same question rattles the brain for most adolescents.

Parents and teachers ask this broad question to children, expecting a realistic answer, and as those children become teenagers and enter high school, the pressure of choosing a career path builds. At the age of 15, teenagers are expected to choose particular courses in order to have prerequisites for their college or university programs.

If a student wants to receive an undergraduate degree in life sciences, then during high school, they must take every available science and math course, leaving no room for electives. However, many university students change their majors and minors to different fields in which they have no particular background or experience.

In 2005, Statistics Canada reported that 90 per cent of students who graduated from university had a full-time job within two years. Those who had a master’s or a doctorate made more money than those who only graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
Even though choosing a career path at young age may be a beneficial step for the future, students continue to feel the pressure. “There’s tough competition. I’m trying to get my undergrad done, and take it one step at a time. Maybe I will go to law school, or become an accountant,” said Sarah Severino, a third-year business student. “It’s hectic, because students are immediately put under immense pressure to choose a specific career path and sometimes you don’t even know if you would truly enjoy doing that job for the rest of your life.”

When entering university, many students have a plan to achieve success in a specific field. However, after their first year, these students may realize that their plans have to take a different route. They switch from one major to another, and lose time in finishing their undergrad because they must start all over in a new career path.

Perhaps high schools could avoid this by offering co-op to all of their students. Usually, co-op programs are intended for students who choose a career in the trade industries. However, this could be a useful tool for those who are interested in the medical or business field. Learning about a type of career ahead of time may be useful for students to experience different job opportunities that seem interesting, and thus, pursue them with confidence and determination.

Some of us stay confident and fulfill their childhood dreams of becoming doctors and lawyers, but others realize that the competition is just too much. In order to get into graduate school, GPAs must be high and with the steep competition, the minimum acceptable CGPA just does not cut it. Continuing her thoughts about university and the competition among students, Sarah Severino says, “grad school is really important for a lot of people and creates a lot of competition amongst students. Not only do you need to have a high GPA, but you also need extracurricular activities and volunteer hours. You have to be a good, all around student or else you won’t have a chance.”

However, is it possible for students to attend university just for the opportunity to gain new knowledge and experience a higher level of education? Many people become successful without having a degree. Perhaps if students attended university simply to learn new material and broaden their knowledge, the pressure of pursuing a future career will be a little less stressful.

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