Counting Down to College: Laurel Springs Rising Senior Helps Young Teens Gear Up for the Future


As a high school student, Kinnari Setty launched the RootUP podcast focusing on the typical challenges teenagers encounter when considering what they’ll do in college.

Kinnari Setty is no stranger to stress. The Laurel Springs School rising senior has faced the typical challenges teenagers encounter, and then some.

For Kinnari, COVID-19 represented a whole different level of stress than it did for others. She’s always had to remain mindful of exposure to potential illness due to a lung condition. But the pandemic represented many unknowns and variables far outside her control regarding her health.

Because she was extra-vulnerable, Kinnari had to leave the public school system for a more predictable environment of her choosing. She chose Laurel Springs. And while she emphasizes that she loves Laurel Springs now, the transition from a traditional experience—especially the social aspects—was tough at first.

In teenage life's already emotional, uncertain landscape, unexpected challenges can seem insurmountable. Kinnari knows this firsthand, which is part of what led her down an entrepreneurial path, setting out to help other high school students find the resources they need to inform important decisions made during their teenage years that could impact their trajectory.

Quick Kinnari Setty …Plan Your Life!

When Kinnari was a 13-year-old getting ready to enter high school at her Texas public school, she was tasked with mapping out her course selections for the next four years to align with her future professional plans.

While the assignment was well-intentioned, Kinnari says it was just flat-out overwhelming.

“I was really worried,” Kinnari recalls. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to go into professionally. It was stressful.”

Nervous that her middle-school self would overlook a choice or pick the wrong career path, Kinnari frantically wondered if a source existed to support the outlook of a teenager seeking information about such important choices.

She Googled, searching high and low, and found…nothing. That’s when her big idea hit her. What better resource for teens seeking guidance on identifying an educational path to lead to a solid career than one curated by a teen?

The RootUP Podcast is Born

Kinnari felt the best source for career information is the very professionals currently working in those fields. She sought them out while coming up with her own plan for school. Having been a guest on a podcast herself, Kinnari knew the medium was perfect for sharing conversations and knowledge with others.

While her own “plan your trajectory” assignment was complete, Kinnari’s passion was focused on guiding others to effective resources. Thus, RootUP, Kinnari’s podcast, was born.

The student and new podcast host wanted to gather anecdotes from people in all types of careers, ranging from elite, difficult-to-achieve professions to the ones considered everyday jobs.

“I’ve had lots of people on RootUP,” says Kinnari. “Different types of doctors, dentists, teachers, my school principal, my parents. I’ve heard a lot of good advice, especially about college.”

From a general surgeon to a professor to a venture capitalist to a cellist, thanks to RootUP, young teens have a resource at their fingertips and in their earbuds to understand what majors and training may be needed for a certain job. It’s especially impactful when you hear it directly from a source who has walked that path, Kinnari says.

One piece of advice she feels is especially valuable relates to higher education choices.

While there are always exceptions, Kinnari says her sources have shared Ivy League isn’t always the goal you should be aiming for.

“The information you learn and how you implement it after college is more important than the name of the college,” she says.

Advice for Students in Grades 9-12 Everywhere

Kinnari’s advice to the 13-year-olds sweating over their future is this:

Take a breath! Your high school years are a great time to explore interests. Be receptive to adults, too. Kinnari says her parents are her greatest motivators and consultants.

"Nothing is set in stone,” she says. “You can always change stuff up, ask people things, and get more information.”

As she embarks on her senior year, Kinnari says she plans to continue hosting her podcast. She also looks forward to bringing more professionals on as guests on RootUP as her network expands.

RootUP can be found on all podcast listening platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.