Each student is unique with their own skills and aptitude on one end and desires and aspirations on the other. Then, there are other variables to consider such as the child’s interest, financial capability, and opportunities when it comes to making a career choice.
Most Indian students, however, do not have the liberty of selecting their own career path. Even though parents have the best of intentions, they often directly or indirectly impose vocational choices on their ward either projecting their own unfulfilled ambitions, prioritising hefty paychecks or forcing them to follow the herd based on social norms.
Let us maneuver around a minefield of pre-conceived myths when it comes to career choices.
The casteism of scorecards
This the most common and longstanding myth everyone believes. Right after the SSC/ CBSE/ ICSE Boards, evaluating a student’s worth basis their mark sheet and slotting them into three categories is the educational caste system:
The high scorers should pursue Science, the weaker students are better suited for Humanities and everyone else in between is meant for Commerce. Oversimplification much!
The downtrodden Humanities
The sub-par performers on the threshold of society’s standards usually take up Humanities. Apparently, there is no special skill-set required here, anyone can pursue a Bachelor of Arts.
People who do not have much ambition and just want a degree to their name or others who are looking to dedicate their focus on competitive exams like the UPSC, take up Arts as an easy measure.
Students from the Arts stream apparently find it challenging to crack an MBA entrance or get selected as they don’t have the ‘right appeal’.
The critical thinkers, philosophers, cogent storytellers and performers of society don’t hold the same value as engineers. Teachers that shape future minds, journalists that hold a mirror to the society, historians and anthropologists that are keepers of time are not as important as innovators.
What we tend to forget is that the ‘what and ‘why’ of engineers and innovators comes from professionals who understand the human psyche, understand problems, design probable solutions and are able to effectively communicate them. The skill-set of humanistic inquiry that can only come through a study of Humanities.
Safety with numbers
When the student doesn’t have the aptitude for Science, and at the same time not considered weak enough for Arts, they pursue Commerce. Want to study BBA/ BMS or B. Comm after 12th, pursue Commerce. Want to join the family business after a graduate course, Commerce makes a good fit. Want a lucrative bank job, Commerce again!
Commerce is a popular choice of theburgeoning middle class of India. We have hordes of students signing up for Commerce every year, not for the love of subjects, but the employment prospects it provides. Parents envision their children dressed on sharp formals and talking numbers like they run the stock market.
For many, Commerce is a stepping stone when looking to pursue a BMS or MBA course ahead. It is what ketchup is to fries for students looking to opt for a CA or CS course, later on, it just fits!
And remember, Commerce without Math is a waste. So what if math gives you the night sweats, how else will you pursue any worthwhile Undergraduate or Postgraduate Course?
Where dreams go to die
The coveted field of Science that makes all parents beam with pride. Laying the pathway for future scientists, astronauts, surgeons, and inventors. Titles laden with a burden of expectations that a student has to carry for a long road ahead. The vast field of Sciences brings along the problem of choices – PCM or PCB?
If the Indian education system had a default setting, that would be Engineering and PCM sets you up for more choices down the Engineering stream. Mechanical and Civil Engineering is not cool anymore, Aeronautical Engineering sounds fancy, and IT and Computer Science is where the real job prospects and money is today.
Want to pursue an MBA in the future, then Engineering is a must. It best prepares you for various competitive entrance tests that millions take every year as a pilgrimage. The Engineer + MBA combination is a story that has been done to death but is a safe place to let individuality wither away.
The four-year course makes the most sense for those looking to take GMAT and move abroad, taking them one step closer to fulfilling the green card aspirations.
The other option under the Science stream is to pick PCB, only if you want to become a doctor or surgeon. Those who can’t secure a seat for an MBBS, become Pathologists or Pharmacists.
Who really pursues Science for the love of scientific discovery anymore? The realms of Physics and Chemistry that gave the world icons such as Albert Einstein and Marie Curie are just not considered cool enough or lucrative enough to pursue today, rather best suited for a television sitcom show.
Biology, Zoology and Botany may have some prospects, but again they are for students who couldn’t make it anywhere else.
Far down on the list of Sciences is Home Science, considered a glorified finishing school where young students, almost always girls are sent to improve their cooking skills and deal with household activities. A rigorous three-year course that looks to tame ambitions. So what if the student has studied various subjects such as psychics, chemistry, nutrition, physiology, art, economics, etc. their cooking should be top-notch.
Need for change
As people, we all change basis our experiences, likes/ dislikes and aptitude, then how can we have a career path set in stone for such young minds. It is high time students, parents, peers and influencers look beyond common notions. In the ever-changing world today, we have a million more possibilities for students to explore.
The need of the hour is to provide a stimulating and encouraging environment for a student that allows them to chart the course of their career in a dynamic manner. Why can’t a Botanist make his/her millions as a tea sommelier? Why can’t an engineer flex his/her coding muscles through ethical hacking rather than punching keys at one of the big four IT companies? Why can’t a psychology student design the gameplay for the next best-selling video game? We are only limited by the possibilities of our mind.
So how can this change be brought in?
The answer lies in counseling.
Importance of educational counseling
Today, there are professionals trained especially to provide the right counseling to students and help them maneuver through this complex decision. They help young minds identify their capabilities, unravel their interests and find their passion.
Counselors help students plan their future that is best suited to them and their own desires. They help bring out the best in them and help them flourish as young individuals and successful professional.
If you are a student in quest of clarity or a parent looking to provide the right guidance for your child, seek the help of a trained educational counselor and chart the life of your dreams.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house