The Perils of an Early Start

06/04/2015 11:11 am ET | Updated Jun 04, 2016

I was fortunate to attend a high school with more AP classes than it knew what to do with itself. The halls were filled with pretentious 16-year-olds stocking up on college credits.

To be honest, most of the classes I took were useless. They did not in any way prepare me for college or give me a sense of what I wanted to major in. I entered college as a cliched pre-med freshman. Honestly, taking AP U.S. History never quite paid off.

Maybe the pre-med route would have worked if I hadn't joined every club and decided to take up a sport I had zero experience in-but we'll get to that another time. Ultimately, I made the unfortunate discovery that my high school virtues had bitten me right in the ass.

When trying to figure out where it all went wrong, it all boils down to the fact that I was not given adequate time in college to explore different classes and career paths, which is generally done with pre-reqs. I was thrust straight into a major I was woefully unprepared for.

It's incredibly difficult to find one's dream job when you have to make a split decision at freshman orientation. A wasted semester of classes that don't work out is a $20,000 mistake.

So, with little time for self-exploration and growing mounds of student debt, I flip-flopped faster than a crooked politician. I bounced around academic departments, eventually ending up with a double major in neuropsychology and journalism, with a minor in English.

I don't get it either.

After almost failing out of my pre-reqs for the pre-med degree, I felt like a failure. I knew I could not return to that degree, and so I chose others I wasn't so fond of; I chose this ragtag group of majors and minors in hopes of finding something to do with myself. It turns out I took all of the wrong AP's in high school and was slowly falling behind everyone else.

It was hard to not feel as though everyone had it together. I saw friends soar through classes that I fought to get a D in. It was never a question of intelligence, but rather the choices I made when I was 15.

How was I to know that by choosing to take AP biology instead of chemistry may have royally screwed me over? Perhaps if I had made a different choice, I may have succeeded in the pre-med route and would still be enrolled in college.

So it goes.

Ultimately, I was forced to make decisions way too young in life. At 15, I wanted to be an artist; at 16, a biomedical engineer. By the time I entered college at 18 with several useless credits already under my belt, I had no idea what I was doing.

All of us were in this position. While some students made good decisions and followed a pretty linear track, I proceeded to further muddle my career path.

Not only had I wasted time by taking the wrong AP classes, it appeared I had taken too many. Teachers were constantly assuring us that AP's were the ticket to a good college and scholarships, but they failed to mention what the consequences of entering college as a sophomore were.

Everything was beginning to feel like a gigantic waste of time and money. I felt pressured to keep moving on the accelerated path to graduation I had set foot on in high school, but I began to worry this particular path was a dead end. While I was set to graduate almost a year early, it was with degrees I had grown to hate.

There's constant pressure to graduate as fast as possible in order to minimize loans and get out into the field quicker than your peers. After spending all of this time and money, we weren't guaranteed a job; the real world is essentially a giant crap shoot.

After spending two years facing the consequences from a hasty decision to change majors my first semester, I decided to cut my losses and jump ship. Yes, I may have wasted some time and money taking classes for degrees I had zero interest in, but I finally came to learn that I cannot hold my 18-year-old self accountable for those decisions.

I had no business picking a career at that age. That age was meant for dredging through pre-reqs and taking a menagerie of classes to figure out what I liked and what I was good at. AP classes cheated me out of this.

This path may have worked for other people, but it didn't for me. And that's okay. I can now confidently say I definitely don't quite know what I want to do.

These next few months are dedicated to reclaiming the "pre-req experience" and figuring out who I want to be.