Recently there was an advertisement for an educational portal that encouraged students to stop being sheep — merely following others to make educational choices but rather to use their portal to make personal decisions in order to stand out from the crowd. This is a predicament that most students face because of the sheer number of courses and programs that are available to students today: ‘It’s so confusing … What else can I do other than follow someone else’s advice?’
Some of us deal with this prickly situation by questioning why we even need to spend so much time studying all those subjects, which anyway seem so unconnected to life. “Why do I need to study?” This is a question that almost every student in school asks at some time or the other, of themselves, or their teachers or their parents. The stock answer that most adults will generally give is: “Because it is what you need to do for your future. If you don’t study now, what will you become when you grow up?”
What will I become when I grow up? Well, that is the million-dollar question that perplexes not just students today but also their parents. The dilemma students’ face today is that there are just too many choices that one can choose from — not just in terms of occupations, but also in terms of education; and this only adds to the confusion. And just to make matters worse, we are bombarded by advice from all sides about what is best suited to us.
“I think you should do this” … “No, do that” … “This is what is best for you!” Yes! But if everything is the best for me, how do I choose what is really the best for me? And if I don’t really know what I want to become, then when it comes to making a choice of what to study next, I invariably find myself being forced to choose one course or another. Given that I haven’t really understood what each course is about, most individuals tend to go with the general opinion about academic programs to make their choice. The real question that most of us face or will face is: How do I decide what to study?
There are four possible ways in which we arrive at a decision. For some of us the answer is simple. I just go with what either my parents or elders in the family suggest. This approach is based on an inherent sense of trust that my parents and family elders know what is best for me. There is no doubting our parents or other elders’ good intentions. They sincerely desire the best for us. But how well do they really know me? How aware are they of the options that are available to me as a student of today? Are they really equipped to comprehend the world that I will have to live in? If the answer to any of these questions has an element of uncertainty to it, then this is not really the best way to go.