Under Pressure

Go to school. Get good grades. Earn a degree. Find a job. Do you think it’s easy? Ask Dawson students who are planning their future.

by Jennifer Attia

In 2009, nearly 25% of students between 17 and 20 dropped out of school (high school or CEGEP) according to Statistics Canada; a very high number considering the fact that Dawson has over 8000 full-time students, and the number is steadily climbing. These students are given the opportunity to pursue a study that could later develop into a full-time career. Yet, somehow students find ways to leave their education behind, leaving the real world outside of the classroom to become their new surroundings. 

There are many different reasons for dropping out of school at such an early age and one of those reasons is “pressure“.

When their children turn 17 and are about to graduate from high school to start studying more seriously, parents feel the need to intrude in their lives and mess with their heads. They might not do it intentionally but their young adults do feel the pressure and it affects everything they do.

When turning 17 and coming close to making their way to CEGEP, students find it hard to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives, but, even so, parents and teachers push them to decide before they’re ready. For teachers, it’s easier since they spend more time with the students than their parents and all they have to do is bring them down with sentences like “You’ll never even graduate from high school with such grades!” or “Why do you want to go to college if you don’t have a goal in life?” My classmates and I have experienced those condemnations every day of our lives in secondary five by almost all our teachers. In the end, our minds are just wandering away and it is even harder to make a decision. 

“The worst was that I got so pressured and confused about the matter that I could barely even concentrate on my current studies anymore,” said Emilie B. a second  semester  General Social Science student. 

“That’s how I ended in this program instead of one more focused on one subject.” Not only does this pressure confuse the minds of young adults but it affects their psychological development at this age because they are blocked on the subject and cannot look further than that. 

Michael Z. is currently a student in his first year at the John Molson School of Business and since he entered CEGEP, his businessman father  has been pressuring him to follow in his footsteps. Michael does not know what he wants to do with his life but he knows for sure that he does not want to study business and become like his father. He told him many times he wasn’t interested but since he does not have any other idea of what to do with his life, he wasn’t given that much choice Now, he is failing in university and only thinks of running away from home and dropping out to start over without the pressure. 

According to a psychologist called Dr. P, the only real and most effective solution to this problem is to face the people who pressure you directly. “Your parents love you and will always want the best for you,” said Dr. P “so tell them that either they loosen up a bit on the subject, or they lose you right now, It’s a very rough way to do things but instead of going through lies or trying to make your parents happy by accepting their conditions, make them face the problem since they’re the ones who bring it up.” 

The most common sources of pressure are the parents and the teachers but there is an even more effective but indirect way to put pressure on a young adult concerning his future: his friends. 

Audrey B. is currently in her first year in  the Commerce program. She knows what she wants to do with her life but she remembers the time when all her friends said “I’m going to be a dentist”, “I’m going to be teacher”, etc, and she had no idea what she wanted. She felt like something was wrong with her since her friends already knew what they wanted and not her. Often she listened to them saying how they would go to CEGEP, then to university and then they would start their job. “I had nothing to say to them and I felt rejected even if they never intended that. My social life went down for a while.”

It is hard to ignore these kinds of influences but luckily there are solutions. When the problem comes from friends, if they are real friends, talk to them about it and they will aid to figure out something. Friends know their friends best.

Of course, nowadays there are also other people to whom you can talk. Your school academic advisor is a very good source of information. According to Dr. P, taking aptitudes tests is not the best way but talking directly with a person is much better because they will learn one’s personality themselves instead of a computer and they will come up with different solutions.

Another solution that worked for this writer and that depends entirely on the individual is simply to take a piece of paper and write the different things one enjoys. Afterwards, group all the ones that are related and they will give different options. After that, ask around to spend one day assisting a person who is already doing this job to learn more about it. It helps to get a better idea of the job and one can see for ones self the pros and cons. 

Having to decide on your future is a very tough process and our choices will follow us for the rest of our lives. These life-altering decisions that have to be taken seriously and that requires spending a lot of time and thought, examining every solution because the main goal is to find the school, the job that is desirable, and not forced upon by others. Dr. P gives one last bit of great advice to all those who are undecided: “If YOU do not make this decision, you’ll end up unhappy the rest of your life.


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