One important part of my job day-to-day is listen and counsel as students describe and weigh choices they need to make in their lives. Should they choose this academic area of concentration or a different one? This career or that career? Big decisions, any of which could have the potential to shape the rest of their lives (no pressure though).
Generally, I advise students to pay a lot of attention to which of the next steps seems most interesting and compelling to them, because that is likely the one they’ll enjoy the most and do best at and then who knows where that will lead? I hope that’s good advice; I give it a lot.
For myself, I often find it interesting to look back on my life and think – what if I hadn’t stayed after class one day in college to ask the TA about a research opportunity? What if I had gotten one of the many jobs I applied for after college? Or that postdoc at Cornell? Or? It’s mind boggling to think of all of these parallel universes (careers, families, pets…) one might have inhabited given either different option sets or choices made.
Because so many of the decisions we are faced with in life are difficult and weighty, I thought you all might enjoy the choices laid out on this sign, which is along one of our favorite walks in Mendocino.
To my Stanford students out there – well done on making it halfway through the quarter! 5 weeks down, 5 to go. I’m including for inspiration a picture of a tree in Russian Gulch State Park reaching for the sky – that’s you!