By Emmy O’Brien

If asked at age eight what they want to be when they grow up, children will give you a “definite” answer. If asked again two days later, the answer will quite possibly be entirely different. Try asking the same question10 years later and a student will probably have even less of an idea.

“Sometimes students have a hard time seeing the whole picture and how some of the decisions they make now will affect them in the long run,” said Sonoma Academy Dean of Students Stacy Cohen.

This is not just due to fickleness. According to science teacher Sam Horton, our brains are hard-wired to act this way due to the fact the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that makes decisions) doesn’t fully develop until around age 25.

Yet at age 18, millions of high school graduates are expected to make some of the most important decisions of their lives: whether or not to attend college, getting a job, and quite possibly moving away.

“A lot of the time people don’t have much of an idea of what they’ll want 10 years from the present so it’s a good idea to choose a path that has a lot of options, like a college that provides many different courses,” said Cohen.

To try to cope with indecisiveness, many colleges and professors recommend taking a gap year or studying abroad for a semester to find some time to critically think about one’s important decisions and try to map something of a plan out.

“Even if they mess up, kids just have to remember that life will go on,” Cohen said.