From today to tomorrow

College planning demands that you think about the future. What kind of college do you want to go to? What do you want to study? What do you want to do after college? It’s healthy to thoughtfully consider questions about your future. But if you feel overwhelmed, unsure, or just plain tired of trying to predict who, what, and where you’ll be tomorrow, spend more time considering who, what, and where you are today.

You’re not going to be the same person two, five, or ten years from now. Those changes are what make your time in and after college so exciting. But making decisions based on things that haven’t happened yet is like investing money in an idea that hasn’t become a legitimate business or product yet. It might pay off just as you’d expected. But that’s a lot of risk to take on based on only a prediction.

If you say you want to be a doctor tomorrow, is that plan reflected in what you’re doing and learning today?

If you say you want to go to a small college because of personal attention with professors, how often are you participating in class, interacting with your teachers, and meeting with your counselor today?

If you say you want to study business because it interests you, how are you feeding that interest today? Do you have a part-time job (fast food, coffee shops, and stores at the mall are all businesses)? Do you read about successful entrepreneurs? Do you investigate what you’d be learning as a business major, how business programs at one college compare to others, or whether people who’ve succeeded in business actually studied it in college?

If what you’re doing today doesn’t match your vision of tomorrow, that leaves you with two options. You can change everything you’re doing in the present to match your proposed future self. Or you can ask some tough questions about whether that future vision should really be driving big decisions like where you apply to college.

There’s not necessarily a wrong answer between those choices. But most people don’t end up in a good destination tomorrow by taking a path that feels wrong today.