WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Aug. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On- or off-campus housing? Which major to declare? An internship or work study? These are questions often debated by college-aged women at the start of a new school year. One question that they may not be asking themselves is, "how will the decisions I make today impact my future?" This year, as college women prepare to head back to school, Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) (NYSE: MRK) and Her Campus, an online community for young women in college, have partnered to create the Pledge to Plan It Forward, which provides valuable resources to college-aged young women in order to help them better plan for their future. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130801/NY56665LOGO-a) (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130801/NY56665LOGO-b) By taking the Pledge, women can also show their support for She's the First, a not-for-profit organization that sponsors girls' education in the developing world and fosters leadership in young adults in America by inspiring them to lead fundraisers. Merck is proud to be working with She's the First for the second year of this program. Merck and Her Campus encourage young women to ask themselves what potential roadblocks may arise. Throughout a planning process, it's important to consider everything from internship or job application deadlines to financial considerations like student loans, while also practicing healthy lifestyle choices. Things like eating well, sleeping, exercising, and sticking to their scheduled doctor visits are important. Young women should also give some thought to a plan that may include birth control options that don't have to be taken every day, and should speak with their doctors to explore options. From a Merck-sponsored survey, Her Campus and the company know that approximately half of women aged 18-25 (228 out of 466 women who are not planning to have children in the next year, or at all) want to achieve their personal goals before having children. And data from the most recent statistics, 2006, show that there were more than three million unintended pregnancies in the United States alone, with the highest incidence occurring with women 20-24 years old. "Research shows that 95 percent of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. occur because contraception is used incorrectly, inconsistently, or not at all. As young women plan for their futures, it's important they talk to their health care provider about all their birth control options, including non-daily contraceptives," said Michelle Vichnin, M.D., director of Medical Affairs at Merck.