Make an informed choice for your higher education

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By Tinky Ningombam
The life of a student I have just started to realize is indeed the best time that one can ever wish for. No erratic sleeping patterns, no eating out from takeaways, no worrying over bills, no bickering over career expectations. Sometimes I wonder what my worries in life actually were. However, I do not mean to undermine the complexity of adolescence. And the unfortunate fact that a lot of important decisions get made when we are in this phase and that someone else normally makes it for us.

Picking your field of higher study is I believe the biggest gamble that people seem to take over and over again. In a lot of unfortunate cases, one finds in another couple of years, waking up to a reality of a failed career after having spent a considerable amount of time, energy and money in pursuing something that they had no interest in. There are however many things that govern your life-trajectory but we are pondering over the idea of exploring “informed choices”.  And I do not mean to imply that a 15 year old should know what he/she wants to become in life. There are a great many who do not know till their very last breath, what they actually wanted to become in life. But what is important is to live a life most agreeable to one’s talents and taste: A life with a purpose; and discovering the ways to achieving that purpose from as many unbiased views as possible.

We have heard familiar stories of kids made to choose their career shaping line of education after their parent’s word. This is universal. I feel humans have an innate urge to rule over other people’s life-choices. That is why advices are so easy to give, even though hard to practice. And that is why though, “We know our kids better than anyone else” answer seems to be a fail-proof solution, it is hardly so.

And why shouldn’t it be hard to understand kids? They are a confused lot themselves; they change from one thing to another, shift from one hobby to another, mutating in habits and character. It is hard for an older folk to pin their thoughts down and make sense of them. But do not trust a parent who says they “KNOW their kids”. This is highly questionable.  Well, most of our parents still think that we babies. And you cannot expect good judgment from a baby, can you?

Fortunately or unfortunately we belong to a place where there’s no pressure for one to work till we are 30. While I like the idea of not pressurizing kids but not the stalling of kids from becoming self independent and making their own choices; we are inadvertently breeding young folks who have no idea of what happens in the world outside. These are ones who rely too much on their family and blame them when things don’t work out as well as it could have.

Now the time has come again for a fresh lot of young students to flock to other places. Many save up money to pay coaching schools, travel fares, accommodations, forms, information dockets… all in the hope that they may get a good college. Some prepare to even waste a couple of years for Medical and Engineering Entrance papers. Forgive my condescension on this aspect but I believe that if one is willing to live through one’s choices, there is no choice that is wrong. It is however disheartening to still see the lack of awareness for young students on the real picture of the careers that they can pick from. One thing that I want to see in my lifetime is the change in the mindset of people about Government jobs and the age-old argument about job security. You would not believe how much these conversations have haunted me over the years. I have lived a normal person’s life of being judged by people every step of my higher education and the choice of my career. One taunting question to another have been thrown on me “So what will you do after an M.A. in English if you don’t become a teacher?” to “What job will you get with a Mass Comm Degree?” to “Why didn’t you go for an MBA?” I guess that is why most people to lets someone else takes the choices for them, then if these queries do come, one can always say “I am doing this for my parents”. Sadly, not many of these people land up happy.

So how does one choose whether one is in the right course of study or not? One simple rule I tell everyone that I meet is to make an informed choice and if things still confuse you then “to follow your heart”. I think that there has never been an issue that a conversation cannot solve. It is very important for parents, older siblings and older folks to TALK to the kids when they are in these junctures that will change their life-course.  Everyone has two minds if not three when one has to make choices. This is where personal counseling helps. Please remember to talk about one’s insecurities, about false expectations, about hidden talents, about what is important in one’s life: Money? Status? Fame? Intelligence? And to constantly give freedom to people to explore one’s calling, the things that one is good at.

I have personally experienced and seen kids duped by random institutions who trap gullible parents through false marketing and then make them spend all their savings to send in the kids to a make-shift College or Institute. And the kids who probably feel that that’s the best that they can get, go through hell and most times through bouts of depression to complete a study course just in the hope of a degree. I would ardently request all the parents to not send your kids to an institution without a trusted knowledge of what is in store for them. A degree is not the end of life. In fact, all the best entrepreneurs in the world are mostly college drop-outs. Therefore Dear Parents, your kids deserve the best advice but they need to be understood properly before you take the risk of shaping their career for them. Can anyone ignore the importance of the decisions in our days of youth? And it takes the right amount of good sense and great responsibility to take control of someone’s life. And no-one hates anything more than to be blindly controlled by someone else; especially a young kid who is finally starting to make sense of his life.

(The author still persists on the need for counseling before one decides to pursue higher studies. Presenting one with a lot of choices doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, picking the right choice will.)

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