Writing Contest: Semifinalist

After High School

Yihharn Hwang, Hoover High School, North Canton, OH (Teacher: Mrs. Rashmi Chopra)

What I have been anticipating and dreaming about these past four years has finally come: high school graduation. It is frightening yet thrilling to think that I will be moving on into a second stage of my life, a stage new and unknown. What exactly will I be doing? Should I continue my education at college, immediately get a job, or possibly travel the world, which is something I have always wanted to do. I know that whatever choice I make, it will determine the foundation of my life career. Therefore, such a choice cannot be handled easily. There are so many options and factors to consider. Fortunately, with the help of my family, friends, educators, and environment, I will be able to come to a conclusion that satisfies me. First and foremost, I must ask myself what I aim to do with my life and what is most important to me. While others may seek different goals, I find myself looking for something simpler and much more satisfying: happiness. Which route in my life will bring me the most happiness?

As of now, I find that my interests and strengths lie in the medical field; though I do not know which professional path I will be taking. My plan is to attend a four-year college to receive my bachelor’s degree and possibly go to medical school. When comparing my opportunity costs, although I will be losing many years when I could have been traveling or working, and thousands of dollars I could have spent buying a house of my own, I believe that this is the best path to take in order to earn the education and skills I will need in order to pursue a medical career. For now, I feel that a medical career is something that I would gladly pursue and enjoy doing; therefore, I will strive to obtain one. Although my education will be extremely costly, both in money and in time—especially with both undergraduate and graduate years—I feel that putting in the years to become a doctor or perhaps a surgeon will be beneficial to me later in my life. The money I will earn from my desired profession will be greater than the amount I put in for college and medical school. Therefore, I feel that my benefits would greatly outweigh my costs. However, one downfall is that while I may be able to earn back the money I used to pay for school, I will never be able to buy back the hours, weeks, and years I spent studying in school. The other option that could get me money much faster and not utilize so much of my time would be to join the workforce right away. However, in analyzing this decision, although I would not need to spend as much time in school, a high school education would not be able to provide me with a job that would earn even close to the amount of money I could make if I were to dedicate the time to becoming a doctor. Therefore, I do not believe that joining the workforce right after high school would be a wise choice. I also believe that by taking more time for medical studies, I will become more knowledgeable and skilled and therefore contribute more to society.

Pediatricians, surgeons, and psychiatrists are always needed because they are essential for all people. On an economic supply-demand scale, there is an inelastic demand, a demand that will never decrease no matter how high prices rise. People will always need pediatricians for checkups, surgeons to repair a broken shoulder or operate on a damaged heart, and psychiatrists to relieve their inner conflicts. I also feel that I would be able to help impoverished men, women, and children in third-world countries and provide them with the medical treatment they need. It has always been something I wanted to do since I was a child. Aside from helping others, I will also be helping myself and my family in the future. A steady, well paid job will ensure the wellbeing of my children and their educational future. I will not have to worry about providing enough food for my children or about next month’s rent. I will be confident of having enough resources to raise my family in a secure and comfortable environment.

There are many possible incentives I could obtain by following my economic decision. One such incentive could be the lifelong security of living in a comfortable home, never having to worry about not having enough clothes or running out of meals. Another would be providing a safe and prosperous life for my children and their education. A third could be the reward of helping others live an easier life, providing them happiness. In the end, however, the strongest force pushing me to obtain my goal would be a personal incentive. It would be an incentive that only I could give myself; I would have to push myself through every college course and every Friday night I spend studying. And that is the incentive to reach my goal of happiness—enjoyment in studying medicine and helping others.