What Is A Teenager To Do?

From elementary school through high school kids, have the word “college” drilled into their heads as if their own future depends on it. Teachers and principals are pressured to make their students’ grades resemble those of a Harvard Graduates. Parents try to get their kids involved in sports, after school activities, volunteer work, and even jobs to just increase their value towards colleges. The thing people seem to miss is that college is not a walk in the park. It is not meant for everyone and everyone is not meant for college.

Back when my parents attended college you had the choice of working instead of attending school, both of my parents worked for a bit then attended school. The woman who cuts my hair has never attended college and I can honestly say she seems no less happy or successful than my parents or anyone else I have met. I’ve put my hands in both the school and work corners, and neither of them have panned out at all and it makes me wonder. What is a teenager to do?

The idea of four more years of school straight after high school just didn’t sit well with me at all. I knew I was already burnt out from high school and college would be me running out of gas, hence, why I was reluctant to apply. But I didn’t know where else I was going to go. With an unhappy look on my face I started filling out applications and soon enough I began getting responses.

The first letter I received back was from Rutgers New Brunswick, Not even an afterthought to go to for college, but I just wanted to test the waters. I opened the letter and read the first line… “sorry but we cannot accept your application into Rutgers New Brunswick”.

I knew I wasn’t this outstanding student, but wow. That initial rejection hurt a lot more than I’d expected, even from a college I had no intention to go to. The next few letters were much more positive and by late December I had a handful of choices where I could get into that “college life” that movies seem to make so perfect, fun, and amazing. I decided to become a pioneer and attend William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. I stayed there for four months till I became absolutely sick of college and decided to try the road less traveled and work for a couple of years.


When I started my job hunt, my greatest ally – at least told by everyone in this world – would be my résumé. My resume looked like a blank piece of paper with the name “Justin Emerson” on top and my contact information. Very impressive, I know. I cannot say I didn’t try to find a job in high school but I never seemed to think I’d be so desperate to find one.

When I left college, I knew I did not want to work some dead-end 9-5 that pays me mere change. I wanted something exotic and exciting. Bartender! It had this aura of excitement around it in my mind and was something where I could be social and enjoy my job at the same time. So off to a bartending school I went. I took the course, graduated, went to their job placement, and well…here I am writing about me trying to find a job.

A new approach was needed. While a minimum wage job totally cramps my style, it seemed more reasonable than an eighteen year old bartender. I went off filling out applications and searching Craigslist and the internet for jobs. This approach met little success coupled with mostly failure. Here is a short list of places I’ve worked at or applied to:

  • Toyota dealership
  • Tesla Motors
  • Apple
  • Gamestop
  • Nike
  • Converse
  • FootLocker
  • Kohl’s
  • CottonOn
  • H&M
  • PacSun
  • Olive Garden
  • Red Lobster

One word can sum up my job hunting: discouraging.

So, as you can see neither road has really worked for me. On that note I have applied and been accepted to Bergen County College where I plan to go and transfer to a four-year college soon after. I’m not happy or excited about going back to college, but like I asked in the first paragraph. What is a teenager to do?


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A simple person trying to make it through this large world

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