One of the most challenging decisions faced by families in my country is choosing a career path and a college for their child. The journey starts during the second year of high school, when students choose between a scientific or literary curriculum. Later, in their final year, pupils who chose the scientific section must choose between mathematics-focused or biology-focused studies. Both children and parents struggle for support during this journey – and none is given. Most importantly, children’s strengths are rarely assessed or taken into account when considering the different choices. But do we as parents have the right to choose our children’s career path?
Many factors and beliefs affect this choice. Some career paths are more prestigious than others. Some colleges are suitable for males but not females, and vice versa. Graduates of some colleges get hired immediately after graduation while others are less likely to find jobs quickly. Some families believe that children must follow their parents’ career path of their parents, or realize their parents’ own dreams. Most importantly, if the child does not get high enough scores they will not be accepted to their college of choice.
I admit that at this young age, most children are not mature enough to make such choices on their own. Even if they are interested in a certain field, most children are still unable to assess their own strengths and capabilities as they relate to the real world. As a result, many students simply comply with their parents wishes.
During a school seminar I once conducted, I met a girl whose mother forced her to select the literary course because she believed that scientific studies required too much work. The girl loved science, but her mother discouraged her from following her passion. By the end of the year, the girl was miserable and the mother regretted her decision. Another student’s father wanted her to join the pharmacy college, although the girl wanted to study arts. Many students shared their stories, lamenting that their parents were forcing them to join specific career paths.
I remember my own experience many years ago when I graduated from high school and wanted to join the faculty of engineering to study computer science, because I loved mathematics. My father wanted me to go to the faculty of commerce because he, himself, was a banker. I, however, insisted, and made my own choice. By the end of my third year of college I knew this course of study was not for me, but unfortunately I couldn’t make a change. I did not know what else to do and no one would allow me to follow a different course. On the other hand, I never regretted because the choice was my own.
Just six years ago I decided to shift my career from software engineering to life coaching. All my colleagues and family were against me. They still consider me foolish to leave a prestigious position for a complete change and an unknown career. I believe in what I am doing, I believe in its power, and what difference it made in my life. Sometimes I wish I had done it earlier.
Choosing a career path that provides fulfillment and satisfaction to our children and suits their capabilities and strengths is the most important choice in their lives. It is true that making a career shift is possible now, but not all people are courageous enough to take such a risk. In addition, why should they waste their time and energy on an inappropriate path while we can help them avoid it? With support from specialists, we can better understand our children’s strengths and preferred way of learning, and we can allow them to try different activities and fields to discover their real passion. Most importantly, we should not impose our own choices on our children. They must make their own decision, with support and guidance from us as parents. With our help, they can learn how to make the best choice for themselves.
Do you have any experiences with helping your children to choose a career path? Are assessment tools used in your country to help the students make the right choice? Would you impose a certain field of study on your child just because you believe it suits them even if they do not like it?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Nihad from Alexandria, Egypt. Nihad blogs at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.