Rumor has it that seniors in high school have more fun than other students. They have a good sense of how the world works along with an ability to manage the myriad of details of school, work, friends and extracurricular activities. Isn't this the time to go out with friends, stay out late and make your best high school memories?

After three weeks of school, I'm not so sure.

During the past few weeks, I find there are two Caitlins. They are at war in my mind. There is the fun-loving girl who says, 'It's Saturday, go out with your friends. You can finish your homework tomorrow.' This Caitlin gives no thought to college or a future career. She does, however, know the value of play to a person's well being.

There is, however, also the sensible girl who says, 'You know you have too much homework to accomplish on Sunday if you play on Saturday. Plan ahead, don't get yourself in a bind.' This sensible Caitlin knows that she has to keep her grades up, be rigorous in her studies and knows that very soon she has to apply for college. These two girls have been bickering nonstop since school started. Really, it is not a split personality; it is a battle between short- and long-term goals.

I work a part-time job to earn spending money. It takes four hours per week out of my day and I earn $144 per month. Gas for my car costs $100 per month. Really? I participate in dance class, dance teams and am preparing for dance competitions, which takes another four hours plus time to drive to the dance school - and more gas, too. I go to school early to meet my math tutor for another hour. By the time I add in sleeping, eating and actually being in school, I find that the rest of my time is needed for homework. There's that sensible Caitlin again. Where are the friends in this equation?

While doing homework last week, I received a call from a friend asking me to come to the soccer game. It sounded fun to me. Well, sounded fun to that fun-loving girl. The sensible Caitlin thought, geez, better ask my parents. You can probably guess what my parents said. I didn't go to the game. It felt good to make a wise decision, but I also felt annoyed that I had to be responsible.

These battles between short- and long-term goals are far more difficult than I had anticipated. As a senior, I have a car of my own, freedom to go where I want and money of my own to spend. The money I earned at Black Butte Ranch this last summer was sent straight to the bank to be saved for college; I haven't seen a dime, yet sensible Caitlin is proud of what she has saved. The money from my current job simply pays for the gas to have that freedom that the fun-loving Caitlin keeps telling me is so important.

Today, I spent my afternoon writing this column. It balances the fun-loving Caitlin with the sensible Caitlin, as both want to study communications at Washington State University and both find journalism fun. So, I guess the choices aren't so hard - there can be some common purpose.

Caitlin Tompkins is a senior at West Linn High School.

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