The Community Editorial Board reflects on their experiences talking to community members this month.

Editorial: A series of pursuits

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“I am so excited to announce that I have accepted a job offer at…” 

After spending just five minutes scrolling through the average college student’s LinkedIn feed, one would likely stumble across this sentence at least 20 times. 

The familiar opener seems inevitable at this point, echoing through our minds and circulating across our screens. It’s occasionally even followed up with a series of “thank you” shoutouts as well.  

After all, if you got a job offer and didn’t post about it on social media, did you really get the offer?

With platforms like LinkedIn encouraging users to showcase their career achievements, it’s nearly impossible for those scrolling not to feel behind. 

According to a 2022 nationwide survey conducted by TimelyMD, two-thirds of students said they felt anxious or stressed about starting their careers. 

It’s hard to identify exactly where this anxiety stems from. Professors often tell us not to worry about the grade, and parents may similarly advise us not to stress so much. A lot of this pressure is internal, brought on by our own drive and will to succeed. 

But regardless of whether it’s self-inflicted or not, there is one thing that’s undeniable: there is pressure put on the post-graduation job search. 

And the concern is normal. We can’t help but wonder, where will we be five years from now? How about 10? What should we be doing to secure the future we want? 

It often feels as though life is just a series of pursuits, and we are hardwired to prioritize what’s coming over what’s happening in the present. 

This concept isn’t only prevalent in college.

In high school, much of students’ academic drive is motivated by the goal of getting accepted into a prestigious university. We are trained to put time and energy into obtaining adequate grades, scoring well on standardized tests and having a well-rounded extracurricular schedule. 

With such an emphasis on tangible achievements, society encourages us to do anything possible to succeed. Even if those methods involve shortcuts. 

Many people treat high school like a game in a sense: a battle to get into the best possible college with the least amount of effort. 

Then, as we embark on our college experience, we face a new end goal: securing the best career path.

At Lehigh, there is a heightened focus on future employment. We work hard to attain a high GPA and are advised to connect with Lehigh alumni in the hopes of getting potential job opportunities. 

And this certainly isn’t bad advice. 

One can argue that developing life skills is ultimately more important than retaining that one fact during a lecture. In the real world, we will never have to memorize a series of facts without having technology available as an aid. 

Figuring out how to “work smarter, not harder” and learning to network with business professionals will get one further in the workforce than memorization will. 

It seems like who you know is often more important than what you know. 

Yet with such a focus on our end result, we often overlook the learning process. We care less about retaining material for our own benefit, and instead focus on memorizing whatever inane facts are needed to ace the exam. 

Once the assessment is over, the recalled information slowly dissolves into everything else we are storing mentally.  

So, in high school, we are focused on getting into college, and in college, we are thinking about our careers afterward. When can we really focus on the here and now?

For many of us, our time at Lehigh will be our last opportunity to explore various interesting topics and discover our true passions. We have professors here to support us academically, and we are surrounded by peers with whom we can forge lasting relationships.  

It’s a shame that today’s competitive climate could lead us to spend the “best four years” of our lives looking to the next 40. 

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