How par­ents can help their kids find the right course

Khaleej Times - - FOCUS ANALYSIS - mushtak al ataBi Mushtak Al Atabi is the Provost and CEO of He­riot-Watt Univer­sity Malaysia

Par­ents want the best for their chil­dren. So it is rather un­sur­pris­ing that when it comes to ed­u­ca­tion, an in­creas­ing num­ber of par­ents are keen to make sure that their chil­dren make the right choices. But how can par­ents help in choos­ing suit­able cour­ses for their chil­dren in a sup­port­ive and en­abling man­ner? And how can they help them avoid the high emo­tional and fi­nan­cial cost of mak­ing the wrong choice?

I have been an aca­demic for two decades. Dur­ing this time, I have seen more and more stu­dents leav­ing high school un­sure of what course to do at the univer­sity. Back in the era most young stu­dents leav­ing school had a clear idea of what they wanted to do. Mostly, the con­flict arose when they wanted to do a de­gree in, say, art or his­tory, while their par­ents thought that they should do more vo­ca­tional course such as medicine, ac­count­ing, law or en­gi­neer­ing. Now, how­ever, the sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent. Many young peo­ple strug­gle to de­fine or know what univer­sity cour­ses they are pas­sion­ate about.

But in­stead of crit­i­cis­ing young peo­ple to­day, we should re­alise it is be­cause of the abun­dance of choices they have that makes the de­ci­sion tough. This re­sults in scores of aca­dem­i­cally able young peo­ple leav­ing school without a strong pref­er­ence for any spe­cific course, which in turn leaves them open to the in­flu­ence of their par­ents and friends.

Ben­e­fit­ting from the wis­dom, ex­pe­ri­ence and good will of par­ents is not nec­es­sar­ily a bad idea. How­ever, it re­mains the case that the best cour­ses to se­lect are those that we are pas­sion­ate about, and which bring mean­ing to our lives. Hav­ing a sense of pur­pose as­so­ci­ated with what young peo­ple are study­ing will en­sure that they will stay mo­ti­vated when things get tough. It will also im­prove their re­silience, and in­crease the chances of their fu­ture pro­fes­sional suc­cess.

Be­fore try­ing to nudge the chil­dren in a “pre­ferred” di­rec­tion, par­ents should help them cul­ti­vate a sense of mean­ing, and help then align their strengths with the dreams they want to achieve. We can help our youth by en­cour­ag­ing them to:

Im­pact they want to have on the world. This is not an easy ques­tion to an­swer, but there ex­ists a num­ber of pro­grammes that will help them an­swer it. Know­ing what im­pact they want to have on the world or what chal­lenge they want to solve, will pro­vide a much needed clar­ity.

Per­form re­search. Com­pare the dif­fer­ent cour­ses and uni­ver­si­ties based on track record and rep­u­ta­tion, em­ploy­a­bil­ity po­ten­tial and if there are any op­por­tu­ni­ties to spend time study­ing over­seas. When choos­ing a univer­sity, it is also nec­es­sary to look at how suc­cess­ful the alumni net­work is. This will even­tu­ally be your own so­cial cap­i­tal.

Visit univer­sity’s open days. It is im­por­tant to visit open days and talk to ex­perts about the aca­demic re­quire­ments of the cour­ses you are con­sid­er­ing. An open day is also an op­por­tu­nity to check out the univer­sity fa­cil­i­ties such as labs and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Do a work at­tach­ment. There is noth­ing that beats try­ing out the kind of en­vi­ron­ment in which peo­ple

Par­ents need to recog­nise that a child may still choose the wrong course. In such case, they need to re­main pos­i­tive and en­gaged.

who com­pleted the course you are con­sid­er­ing work. It might be slightly chal­leng­ing to get work place­ment for young peo­ple but it is worth try­ing.

Vol­un­teer for a cause. This will help young peo­ple iden­tify their pas­sion and pur­pose, and help them be­come sure of what they want to do with their life.

De­spite their best ef­fort, par­ents need to recog­nise that a child may still choose the wrong course. In such case, they need to re­main pos­i­tive, en­gaged and pro­vide emo­tional sup­port. It takes courage be­cause be­com­ing who we re­ally are re­quires that we ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions about who we are and what is our pur­pose in life and what im­pact we want to have. Our youth are the true wealth of our so­ci­ety and they de­serve that we in­vest in them and sup­port them while mak­ing this leap. —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.