Should parents be choosing a child’s stream after 10th?

One of the toughest challenges every student faces in the final year of their school, apart from their board exams, is the uncertainty that comes while choosing a stream for higher studies.

Majority of the schools in our country, including some of the best ones, do not provide much guidance or counselling to students on this matter. It forces parents to take it upon themselves to make the choice.

But, are parents well equipped and better informed to make the right decision?

Parents who work as professionals look best placed among other parents in this matter. With years of experience in their professional fields, working with corporate client etc., they are much aware of the job market situation in the country.

However, most of this knowledge, unfortunately, is limited to their own professional or related fields. Thus, a majority of them have little to no knowledge on other career opportunities that might be best suited for their child.

In such cases, due to their unawareness, and over confidence in their own profession, parents tend to choose a stream that is in line with what they are doing currently. This choice, though, might not necessarily compliment the child’s interest or skill levels.

Counselling Psychologists encounters such cases regularly in the past.

“A professional, like a doctor or an accountant, want their daughter/son to follow their footsteps, even though in most cases the children possess skills and interest for a completely different field”, according to Shamila Shetty, a Parent-Child Counselling Psychologist.

“With success and experience in their field, it becomes difficult to make the parent understand, as most of them have already made up their mind.” she added.

Other parents who are into regular jobs or service sectors are, at most times, unclear of which field could be right for their child.

In such situation, they tend to either take a decision based on the grades of the child or insist on child pursuing a traditionally successful profession.

So, say, if a child scores 85% or above, they are naturally asked to choose the Science stream, not realising the fact that scoring a higher percent doesn’t necessarily mean the child is interested in Science stream.

It only adds additional pressure and burden on the child to continue performing on the same level, irrespective of whether they like the stream or not.

Yet another set of parents, who are unsure or unaware of the opportunities, tend to choose more traditionally well-known professions to be on the safer side.

The problem with such an approach is that some times, when the child is not eligible for course, due to poor marks, and miss out on good and reputed college, these parents still insist on the child pursuing the course.

For that, they compromise on the quality of the college by choosing any lesser known or low ranked college. They also pay or take a loan to meet the exorbitant fees that private colleges demand. To these parents, the title of the degree matters more than the institution.

In this rush, to get admission for that elusive course, what these parents fail to realise are the struggle these students may have to face after graduating from such colleges.

The competition in the job market is so fierce, that a degree from a low ranked college puts the child on the backfoot, the moment s/he steps out of college. The realisation that, reputation and rank of the college matter pretty highly in getting jobs in good organisations, hit them hard.

Students who have taken huge loans for admission are under additional pressure to find success quickly.

Parent have every right to take a decision in the matters of their children, but involving you child, taking advice from professionals would help you in choosing a course that best compliments’ your child’s interest and innate abilities.

Following actions are of prime importance when deciding your child’s higher studies –

– involve your child in decisions about her/his career, streams of study etc.,

– consult the teachers on the best option their child could possibly opt for

– take the help of a career counsellor by getting a career aptitude test done, and finally

– take a collective decision after consulting and going through every possible option.

Career decisions are mostly once in a life time decision. Hence, every parent should invest a good amount of time in understanding and go through every possible option to make a sound career decision for their child’s future.

(The author is a Career Advisor in the field of Education, providing guidance and counselling to students)


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