Advice for a high school senior

Hello to all the great women out here! I've been reading some of the posts, and I am amazed as to how great all the advice given is. Also not to mention how thoughtful the questions out here are. You all are working on such important problems and facing such real things. It is so inspiring.I am a high school senior in Dubai, and to be very honest I am so unsure of what I want to do after college, or even what to expect in college. I feel alone in this because people around me, really know what they want and have a plan. I know that many people don't but it makes me feel underprepared. I recently decided I wanted to major in finance&accounting because I've had some experience studying the subjects throughout high school.Any advice on how to figure out career post college, or even something you wish you knew going into college would help so much.Thank you!!!!
Hey sister! Thanks for making this post. I'm very empathetic towards this situation and will be very honest!I think that first and foremost, the self-judgement needs to be thrown out the window. When you judge yourself by not knowing what you want to do after college, you create massive amounts of unhappiness in your mind. You are so extremely young sister, you do NOT need to know what you will be doing, especially for someone who is a senior in High School worrying about where you will be after college. You have time, lots of it. Thinking way off into the future causes unnecessary stress and overthinking. Second, comparing yourself to your classmates and people in general is also a recipe for disaster. I can genuinely say that *most* of the people around you actually do not know what they are doing or will be doing and are just pretending like they do. I went to a quite prestigious and competitive High School and used to compare myself to my classmates too. I simply just didn't fit the mold because I was more entrepreneurial and wanted to do my own thing instead of chasing something that would be meaningless to me like a degree and a high GPA. We are all different, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and play into your strengths. I know you have them!We need to put happiness on a pedestal instead of comparing ourselves to what other people put out externally (which like I said, is often far from the real truth). Take it easy, dive into things you are passionate about or make you happy, and work on becoming a better you internally. That's how you will become a real winner. Stay on your path and do not worry what others have going on in theirs. :) Wishing you the best and I hope that this helped!
Thank you for the helpful advice and I appreciate you taking the time to reply :) I'm really glad I am getting advice from someone who has gone through what I am currently going through. It makes me feel really better knowing that I don't need to exactly know what I want to do after college. I am definitely taking your advice about not comparing myself to others because that is something I have always struggled with. It is inspiring to hear about how you took your own path and here you are helping me find mine too! It is really reassuring to know that I'm not alone in this and I have such strong, inspirational women guiding me and giving me the absolute BEST possible advice a teenager would like to hear at this point in her life!
We are all rooting for you! :)
Hi @simranraichandanii you are just beginning a new and exciting chapter in your life! I want to assure you that it's okay you don't know what to expect in college or do after. Now is the best time to explore, take risks, make mistakes, and learn as much as you can to figure out what you like, don't like, and love.Explore anything that interests you. If you like it, learn more about how you can take that interest future. What can you do? What can you build?If there's one thing that will guide you through career choices, job choices, and life in general, I would say think about what you value - take some time to do self-reflection about what are your personal values (how they make you feel, how they influence your work/choices, what matters most to you). Once you have a better idea around your personal values, you'll be surprised how it helps clear things up :)
Thank you for replying with such wonderful advice! I feel a lot better knowing its okay to be uncertain about what to do after college. I'm definitely gonna take your advice on how I should use my time right now to self reflect on the type of person I want to be and figure out my likes and dislikes! I completely agree with you on how personal values can really help you figure out your future. Any tips on how to get started? Thank you for guiding me towards the right path!
If internships are available, or any kind of job opportunities during the summer really, take them! College is the perfect time for bursts of different employment opportunities that align with your interests and passion — they could either hone you into focus towards some kind of career direction, or you could bounce around largely varying roles and industries and it's ALL OK!PS. I've also updated your post title with a small tweak to make it more clear :)
Kudos for posting a brave and vulnerable question, @simranraichandanii, and welcome to Elpha!I agree with @nastassia that most people probably don't really have it figured out and that comparison can be so damaging. :-) I'm still exploring and figuring things out and I'm 42! I would say take as many classes in as many different areas as you can. Follow your curiosity. You can always change majors later.Be kind to yourself. You will have grown so much a few years from now that you might not even recognize your current self. Spend your time and energy on being present. No pressure just yet to figure out that career and there isn't a singular path or answer there either. While we are conditioned to be specialists who are expected to stay in one industry and climb the corporate ladder, it doesn't have to be that way. :-) (I realize this is all easier said than done. I have spent many years in my head thinking about and worrying about the future and it's only in the last couple of years, that I have focused on being intentional, mindful, and more present in my life and it takes work. I wish I had figured that out sooner.)
Hi Simran! I'm a senior business major in college so I can offer some advice on things I wish I knew when I was a freshman. First, treat school like it's a full time job. Classes only take place a couple times a week so you'll find yourself with a lot more "free time" compared to high school. Use this time to study with friends or join some clubs that interest you!Second, no one really knows what they're doing either. A lot of people like the idea of certain careers but find out it's not for them once they're more exposed to it. Plans change and that's okay! Progress is also finding out what you don't want to do.Third, your major doesn't determine the rest of your life. I've found in my internships that there are people with very different degrees working on the same team, which is great because everyone offers something unique to the table. That being said, Finance & Accounting has a ton of career options! It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a CPA or work for an accounting firm. You can apply your major to just about anything!Good luck, you're going to do great!
This third point you made is SO important! I remember feeling the same way in college, that I had to figure out the rest of my life/career RIGHT NOW. And that's just so unrealistic. The only thing I'll add is try not to beat yourself up if things don't pan out how you thought they would. My degree is in journalism and my career path has deferred from that in so many ways. AND THAT'S OK! You'll do great, just take the pressure off yourself a bit and enjoy college! It'll be so much fun!
Hey, thank you for emphasizing and making me aware that it is really okay to stray away from your original plans. Hearing about how you have experienced it as well makes it 10x better. This is some really good advice I have received and I feel reassured knowing there are women out here that completely support uncertainty.Thank you so much for replying!
You're so welcome! I think I speak for everyone when I say we're happy to support you and help you in any way we can :)
Hi Emery, Thank you for your valuable advice. I feel a lot more confident about going to college after hearing you out! I am delighted to be receiving advice from someone who is in the same career path, I was very unclear about which major to opt for mainly because I don't know what I want after college. Thank you for clearing out my doubts about how my degree does not determine what I can and cannot do after college or even internships for that matter. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to me :)
Congratulations on your senior year!So brave of you to become aware of this and to reach out for’re in a beautiful place for that! When speaking with others your age and even younger, one of the main things I wish someone would’ve told me is to be open to what your life may look like.After high school, it’s like a veil is lifted where you’re going to explore things. Through the exploration, you’re learning about yourself in the process.Be open to the process. It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.Having a vision of what you’d like to experience is cool to have so you can begin to put yourself in those environments AND at the same time, trust yourself and feel through it. Another thing I wish someone would’ve said is that it’s ok to change your mind! Just because you start in something, in the middle of it, you may see it’s not quite working out (and if you’re feeling it physically like with anxiety, digestive changes, etc), then you’re reeeeally not diggin’ it. So don’t continue hurting yourself just to do it.Learn from the experience and shift. It’s totally fine!People looked at me all sorts of funny when I changed directions in the middle of undergrad and then I changed again and then I changed again. What I can say is that in each step of the way, I grew to learn about myself even more where I could discover my talents and gifts. So the way I present that to the world may look different. There are some tests that may help you learn more about you such as Enneagram, Human Design, StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs. Tap into your natural gifts. Then see which types of careers leverage those. I’d start with Human Design since it’s based on your birth and you can learn more about your natural inclinations and how you interact with others most comfortably as well as where you may need support (aka the types of mentors that would be helpful.)Be present with where you are now. Go into college open to learning and exploring. When you get to that point, you may find something else. And here’s the kicker: you’re gonna go into life continuing to learn and explore! That’s where are the juiciness is. This is your journey and nobody gets to live it but you. All the best and much love! 💕
Thank you so much for replying with such wonderful adviceI really appreciate the fact that you emphasized on how normal it is to want to change your career path and to discover my likes and dislikes during college. I feel more confident and honestly excited about college after hearing you out. It's encouraging to hear that you went through changes as well and were uncertain but still followed your gut regardless of what other people thought.Also definitely gonna check out those tests!
Most welcome and my pleasure! Please message me if there's anything else that may come up. Even if it's just a chat and encouraging words. :-)
@simranraichandanii Your career is likely to change 7 times in life. Its ok to change or modify your career goals as you mature and get some experience under your belt. Flexibility is key to finding what suits your interests and is in demand in the job market. It's great that you are committed to studying an in-demand skill like accounting/finance. I recommend that you search job boards with accounting and finance as your query. You can see what's available. Good luck on your journey!
Hey, thank you so much for replying! I feel reassured knowing that it is okay to want change and stray away from my "original plans". I will definitely look into what you mentioned, and wanted to thank you for such wonderful advice.
You are welcome. Good luck!
Hey squirrel!I actually made a video about this, last year, that you may find helpful:👏🏾go👏🏾to👏🏾town👏🏾on this subject - as someone who went to university and THEN went to community college - and afterwards had time to reflect.TL;DR - University was a waste of my time (and money) and I ACTUALLY learned skills in community college.Soooooo...everything I was taught in the 80s and 90s was a lie.I know it's a 12-minute listen, but it's a subject I'm low-key adamant about.And I talk STRATEGY for senior high school kids or those who have no idea what to do with themselves.So dig in.Hope it helps.
I wanted to thank you for your reply! I honestly loved your video and the way you addressed the issues and the advice you give is just amazing! The way you break it down step by step and have so many options for all students that are struggling is really helpful. I completely agree with you on how you should try out different courses and reach out to professionals as this could help you realize what path you would like to go on. (okay, to be honest, I love your positive attitude :) ) It also helped me self reflect and realize what I really want and the type of person I want to be in the future.
Huzzah! Go get'em girl!
@simranraichandanii, thank you so much for reaching out!First things first, what you're facing and working on/through is *just as* important & real as what we are. We are just a little bit older! But, to echo the other posters' excellent points, we are all, ALWAYS, works in progress & working things out for ourselves. You are and can be powerful and impactful as you are -- right here, right now.I say 'you are' very deliberately, because IMO you have already shown this here in spades.It takes great courage to reach out and express vulnerability in the way you have done. To admit when you don't know something or, shock horror, when you're not okay, and to ask for help. It's something that I personally still struggle with at times and actively work on & through every day. So please know that, first and foremost, I am so proud of you for being brave and putting yourself out there. One thing that may be important and valuable to bear in mind here is that what we want changes as we do. Who you are now isn't who you're going to be in a few years time, and that's a beautiful thing! (Spoiler alert: this is true for me too! It's true for all of us! And it's okay to change our minds and reconsider our lives. It doesn't mean that any time spent pursuing specific avenues has been 'wasted' if we choose to walk away from something that no longer excites or inspires us; on the contrary, it shows how much we have learned and grown.)Change really is the only constant, so I would suggest that adaptability and resilience are the *real* tools to develop and hone -- which is true no matter where you're at in life. I'm 22, so just a few years on from you, and I can say with my hand on my heart that I don't know where I'm going to be in a few years' time. What's most important here, in my opinion at least, is attitude and grit. Be open to new opportunities and expanding your horizons. Embrace the sense of possibility. And have fun! Life is a precious, beautiful gift. Make sure that you let yourself enjoy it as much as you can. At some level, all we have is the here and now - endlessly. Be kind to yourself and make it count.With love, hugs and solidarity, Rachel
Thank you for replying with such amazing advice Rachel!I am thrilled you appreciate me reaching out and asking for help especially after reading all the posts about all the amazing and empowering women out there I just knew I had to!I loved how you emphasized how normal changes are. I am so glad to be getting advice from someone a few years ahead and it is reassuring to know that it is okay to not know what lays ahead but to follow my heart and what I enjoy doing (which could change over the years as you mentioned). That's something I am so glad I am being informed about before going to college. Having a positive attitude and how you deal with the change is important. I'm thankful for your words of wisdom.
@simranraichandanii I have been in the same dilemma as you are seven years back when I was a senior in high school and I did not have any idea on my future plans of what to do post college. I also felt that I was left behind. Here are some wise advice that I wished that I had given to my naive, spoiled 18 year old self at that time. 1. Build character traits that would make me successful in my career such as resilience, discipline and completely eliminate procrastination. Trust me I’m still fighting procrastination, and struggling to be disciplined even as a adult. Job rejections are humiliating and I have to struggle every day not to give up and keep going. 2. Be proactive today. Practice good habits today because they will help you tomorrow.A milestone takes days of progress to develop. Nothing will come easily to me, I have to work hard to earn it. We are entering a age of instant gratification and it’s easy to forget that money does not grow in trees or fall from the skies. 3. Build your self-respect. Learn to respect yourself first. Learn to appreciate your flaws and turn them into advantages. 4. There are people who are better than us, more motivated than us and are more successful than us. Admire them and see what they are doing that makes them successful. Don’t fall into the comparison trap. All of us are not completely 100% perfect people. I’m not perfect either, so if someone feels that I’m better than them, and they are insecure because of that...I feel that they are better in something I’m not and I have the same insecurity. If all human beings are perfect in every aspect the world would be a different place today. A perfect life is a illusion. 5. I should have done this long time ago, so ban social media including instagram, Facebook, tik tok and YouTube. Eliminate Instagram and Tik Tok out of your phone. It only fuels your insecurities and makes you feel more inadequate. I am more happier now without these apps and they do not define my self worth. My self-esteem has increased and I feel beautiful and confident in the inside. 6. Don’t let others define your life choices. It’s your life, your choice. You are living for you. Not for mom, dad or any random person. You are not obligated to please anyone and as you get older you realize that you cannot please everybody in life. Respect your parents guidance, however make the choice that is best for you. We will all end up in a funeral home at one point, so live your life to the fullest. 7. Always be a truth seeker. I expect 100% honesty from my close friends and I will get very angry if they sugarcoat sentences or won’t express their true feelings. Hearing the truth is like having a open heart surgery and recovering permanently. Lies only make things worse.8. Make real friends that will make your life better and that they enjoy your company and want to be with you. It should not be forced or transactional. 9. The future will always be uncertain no matter what detailed plans you make. You will no longer be the same person four years later than what you are right now. Always have a plan A,B,C,D so if one plan fails you have another to jump back on. To be honest, I’m never a detailed plan making person, I just make the best decision for a situation, evaluate the consequences and just go ahead with it. I just live and experience life for what it is. I stopped living for the future because it drained my positive attitude towards life. I do make a lot of contingency plans though and inform my parents ahead of time what I’m doing. I have reachable well-measured goals rather than over-ambitious goals which would cause me to burn out. It’s okay to be ambitious, but too much ambition and future expectations can lead to disappointment. Focus on improving the process and not expecting any results. Because life throws the inverse of what you expect most of the time. I expect y= f(x) and life throws y= f^-1(x) at me Expectations can lead to disappointment because life did not turn out the way you wanted to. I wish I had learned this sooner, it took me four years to get around this and two years to implement it. Having no expectations of the results simplifies my life more and it allows me to channel my energy into making the process better.10. Get good sleep, drink lot of water and eat healthy. Work hard, don’t burn out. I had 2 burnouts in my undergrad and my body could not take it anymore. Have a good balance between work and health. Your body will thank you for it in the future, because health is wealth. If you take care of yourself now, you will face less complications as you get older. (I’m struggling to lose weight I gained from my undergrad due to overeating from stress)11. Learn to live life without regrets. Keep an open mind, when it comes to your destiny. Have fun, enjoy college and learn to let the past go. 12. Always call your mom and dad once or twice a week. Update them on what you’re doing and on everything else. Ask if they are alright. Don’t hide things from your parents, such as failing subjects. You will be yelled at and they will be angry with you, eventually they will come around and will do their best to help you out. Your friends will come and go but your loved ones will always be with you no matter what. Don’t forget your loved ones. The ten things I learned are from my experience as a undergrad and grad in college. I really regret not implementing point 11 and 12 though. I still have more life lessons to learn more things to discover. It’s easy to give advice, but it’s much harder to practice it though. I’m at a point where I am trying to practice what I preach to be true to myself. I hope this helps.
Thank you so much for replying with such wonderful advice. I loved all the 12 tips and to be honest, I struggle with a few of them today. I have been trying to be more disciplined and stop procrastinating and it has been hard but I'm keen on working towards it!I agree with you completely on how you should put yourself first and build your self-respect because that has been my #1 issue and I am still learning how to get there. Even comparing myself, after reading all of the advice that was given to me the one that was mentioned a lot is not to compare myself with others but to focus on my own path. I love how you mentioned to start doing things that make me happy and live life for me and not let other peoples judgement get to me. I am now aware that it is not always certain that plan A will work and that it is okay because I should always have plan B,C,D. I really appreciate your advice and by the way, loved the y=f(x) joke :)
Congrats on making it through high school! It only gets better from here ;)Echoing all of the wonderful advice these ladies have given around living in the present and being open to new opportunities & changing your mind. I'd also like to add that when I was a senior in high school, I was one of the people you're talking about who "really knew what I wanted and had a plan". I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after college, and definitely was perceived that way by others I went to school with.Seven years later, I look back on that time in my life and realize that was the point when I actually had it the LEAST figured out. My career today looks absolutely nothing like what I envisioned when I was seventeen. It was only when I started admitting that I DIDN'T know what I wanted and I DIDN'T actually have it all figured out that I started exploring the paths that led me where I am today. I'm sure that seven years from now, my career won't look anything like what I'm envisioning today, either-- I've been 3 or 4 different people over the past 7 years, and will certainly become 3 or 4 different people in the next 7.If you're not sure what you're doing and are ready to admit it, you're already many steps ahead of the people who think they do, in my opinion. Best of luck on your journey-- my DMs are open if you ever want to chat!