July 10, 2013,
When it comes to choosing a career, many students are completely clueless as to what they should pursue. While there are many who do deliberate on how to choose a career and what course to pursue, but more often than not, they end being affected by the opinion of peers and family members, and therefore, are never able to make a rational apt decision regarding their course and career.
Let’s look at some statistics to understand this well. As per the official CBSE website, approximately 9.5 lakh students appeared for the class XII CBSE examination this year in 2013. This is a 15.81% increase in the number of students appearing for class XII exam in comparison to the previous year 2012. On average, 82.10% students passed the class 12 examination across India in 2013.
The failure of the remaining 17.90% of the students could be attributed to an incorrect decision about the stream they chose in class 11. Though there can be various other reasons as to why the students failed, but this one factor cannot be overlooked. It is not that the students are incompetent or not intelligent enough. It is just that they were stuck in a wrong stream for which they did not have the required aptitude and personality.
A closer look into the results of all class 12 students will also reveal that not every student scored a distinction or a first degree. There were many students who got stuck with a second or third degree. This is proof enough to explain the dire effect of choosing a wrong stream in class 11.
But the story does not end just there. After passing the class 12 exam, the next dilemma that comes into their life is what career to choose and what course to take up for pursuing graduation. While some students start really early and whether on parents’ advice or their own will, they start preparing for various courses right in class 11 or even earlier. But the preparation does not guarantee selection; so, many a times, they have to choose courses that may not be the first choice.
Various other ways through which a student decides what course to take up and what career to pursue are:
- Some students blindly go for courses/ colleges that supposedly offer best pay packages.
- Some pursue those courses which appear to be the most glamorous and / or can lead to a glamorous career.
- Some belong to families who are into one or the other kind of professional careers and therefore, invariably, it becomes a family career. For example: doctor, lawyer, engineer, chartered accountant, CA, CS etc. Similarly many students join their family businesses and end up leaving their education.
- Some students simply pursue those courses / careers which their friends have taken up.
- Some follow the footsteps of their siblings / relatives / role models.
- Some students truly are passionate about a particular career and devote their entire time and energy into preparing themselves for that particular course and career.
- And there also are many others who prefer colleges over courses and thus take up any course on offer in that “Best College”.
- There are also many students who are not sure about what they are interested in and are completely unclear about what to do. Therefore, they end up going ahead with whatever course they are able to get through.
It is really ironic that such an important decision of selecting one’s course and career is based on such less research and one does not give much serious thought to it. Eventually, midway through the course many students realize that they are stuck in a wrong course. It happens with many students, including the brightest ones who manage to get through the best engineering colleges and best medical colleges (as can be seen from statistics of the students who fail in the first year of college). If somehow they are able to manage to drag themselves through the course, they end up being stuck with miserable and unhappy jobs.
The paradox here is that instead of looking for an alternative solution to this problem, many students and people continue studying and working in the same course and career, despite being exceedingly unhappy. They feel helpless, and they feel there is no way out of this mess. And hence, they continue to drag on with their miserable unsatisfied life. Lack of awareness about the wrong and right career often leads them to blame their own selves for being incompetent and for not being able to deal with their studies and work. Their self esteem and self confidence takes the biggest hit.
What many people fail to understand is that it is not they themselves which is the problem, rather, it is the course / career that they are in which is not right fit for them.
What are the signs that you are in a wrong course / career?
- You are unable to understand the concepts being taught in the class.
- Your performance is lagging way behind other students / colleagues.
- You fail to clear all your exams, or, you are able to barely pass in your subjects.
- No matter how hard you try, you are not able to concentrate on, nor able to enjoy your studies.
- You area unable to meet the required standard of your course / career.
- You are panicked, anxious, stressed, and grumpy almost most of the time.
- You are unhappy with your own self and have a major low self esteem and low self confidence level.
- While these symptoms can also be triggered by factors like home sickness, an inability to adjust to the new environment and other factors and where symptoms usually subside within no time. But if you continue to feel bad even after a couple of semesters have passed, then you must investigate. And most often you will find that you are stuck in the wrong course.
Ok, now that you know that the problem is not you but the course, what should you do now?
- Ask yourself what you dislike about the course / career. If it is just a subject or a certain task of the job, then it’s just a short term problem.
- If you want to change your course / career because you think that another course / career will lead to more money or satisfy your desires much faster, then it is important that you do some research. Every career requires an individual to start with less. A person has to make their way to the top and please remember that there is enough money in every career, provided one is a career- fit and is putting in the best efforts.
- Remember that once you switch your course / career, you will have to start from the scratch. This means that you will have to put in more time, effort and money into educating and training yourself.
- Once you have figured out clearly that you actually are stuck in a wrong career, it is very important that you act QUICKLY!
- Time is of utmost significance. Rather than whiling your time away despite being absolutely certain that you are not meant for this course / career, and instead of waiting for some divine intervention to come and help you out of your misery, it is important that you take immediate corrective action.
What is the corrective action?
- One of the best solutions to come out of this problem is to go for professional career counseling. Career counselors who have been in the industry for many years and who have good industry knowledge will be able to guide you about the market reality.
- Also, career counselors who base their decision on an understanding of your aptitude, personality and interests will actually be able to give you the most apt career advice for the RIGHT career for you.
- These counselors will conduct an aptitude test and a personality test to understand what is the right course and career for which fits in with your aptitude, personality and interests.
- Ask as many questions as you possible can and get ALL your doubts clarified. Remember that it is not every day that you will go for career counseling. Make the most of the opportunity and get complete clarity about what you should be doing and what you must most definitely avoid.
- Once you have the road map or the career path for the right career for you, don’t waste any more time. Discuss with your family the knowledge you have gained regarding your aptitude and personality and make a quick decision thereafter.
- Enjoy the whole process as a big learning experience, and don’t beat yourself up or get stressed out for a delay in the correct decision making. Every experience of life is some kind of learning.