Monday, June 1, 2009

Selecting a Career for Your Child? For God's Sake, Leave It To Them...

I JUST returned home after a visit to Ernakulam, where my son Praful had to write the entrance examination for law conducted by the national law universities' common admission board.

There was a big crowd there, as hundreds of children from various parts of Kerala had come to write the exam. There seems to be a huge spurt in demand for law courses offered by national law schools, as three years ago when Amrita, my daughter, took it, the candidates were comparatively fewer.

But the candidates appeared to be of two types: Those who came there simply because somebody told them it was a course that could help win jobs with hefty money; and those who had some background in law or were seriously interested in pursuing law as a career. But what was surprising was that in most cases, these decisions were taken not by the children, but by their parents.

I do not say parents don't have a say in selecting a career for their kids. They do, but that is an advisory role; not a decision-making role. I am disturbed many parents are now trying to take over their children's lives, imposing their pet wishes on the youngsters. This could prove to be disastrous.

I do not claim I don't interfere with my children's lives. I do. In the case of my son, I was trying to tell him if he is interested in a management career, as he seemed to be, then he must first pursue a course like economics or law that could prove helpful in tackling challenges in a management career.

It was not easy. What advice to offer calls for serious effort, I realize. The other day, I was advising a friend to read a book on economics, Economics: Making sense of Modern Economies, edited by Simon Cox. I was reading the book as I was planning to lecture to my 17-year-old son, as he had to decide on what course to pursue.

As kids go, I must admit this one is a genuine representative of his generation, carefree to the core giving paroxysms of anxiety to his mother. So I thought it would be prudent and economic to advise him to pursue economics, and I was trying to convince him this discipline, in itself, was as sexy as say IT or other hot pursuits of our times. Or if he was eager on MBA, he could pursue that as well.

Now I know that we need a lot of convincing not only our youngsters but their parents too on the matter of pursuing the right career. Like me, two of my brothers too have boys who now seek a degree course and I find, it is a mad pursuit for the best and most juicy. No one wants the second place and hence a mad rush. The kids are now being fed ambitions beyond their endurance and one of my friends told me he had spent Rs. 25,000 just to purchase various application forms alone!

I thought he was kidding or trying to make me feel petty and look stingy as, as a matter of fact, I had spent only Rs. 3000 for such application forms for various entrance tests. But later I realized he was telling me the truth, as there are dozens of such tests now going on and they charge hefty amounts just for the prospectus and application forms. Sure, they must be making a hefty amount of money this way.

You may say these are gullible, uneducated people. Not at all. They are middle class people with excellent education, professional track record, and access to all the information available in the world. Still, they seem to be critically confused when it comes to the career choice for their children. I really do not know why this is so: is it a question of one's unending ambitions or is it a matter of our outlook, or is it a question of a problem of plenty?

One thing is sure: we need career guidance not only for our children but for their parents too so that the kids would be saved much headaches in their lives.

1 comment:

peethan Abhilash said...

A peer thought. A worth addendum here -