What Drives Your Choice?

What Drives Your Choice?

This is the time of entrance tests and the time to pick the course that will shape your career. Have you weighed the pros and cons of your decision?

“You have not mentioned the stream you are pursuing in class XII,” says Aruna Manoharan to a student at her T. Nagar office in Chennai. For the marketing consultant who provides services for a couple of foreign universities as well as education consultancy services for Indian universities, April- May is the time when the most clients approach her.

Her present client, a first-time visitor, who has just completed class XI is curious about the possibilities ahead. “I enrolled for JEE classes and left them midway. I want to pursue a career in law,” says the student, and immediately, Aruna suggests the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) for admission to the 5-year Integrated LL.B even as she accesses a presentation with details of law courses in the country.

Waiting outside are many students from the science stream browsing through brochures of IIT JEE, AIEEE, WBJEE, ORJEE, VITEEE, KIITEE and many other entrance tests, while a few other others flip through pages of information on medical entrance tests including AIIMS, AIPMT and JIPMER.

It is important to have a plan, especially if you are a class XII student. In about two months, over 100 entrance tests will provide students an opportunity to pursue careers in over 89 different fields from aeronautics to textiles. Accessing the right information and planning seem to be the key to making the right choices.

Kalyani Nagappan, a parent, has been even busier than her son, who finished his class XII exams recently. “Since children are busy with their board exams, parents in many households have to take up the responsibility of tracking deadlines and interesting courses for them,” she says. “There are many options but they are all performance-based and there is always the fear that your child might miss the qualification. So, you make him fill up as many forms as possible,” she adds.

The deadlines for the submission of applications for many premier engineering and medical colleges are already over. “I missed out on VIT form and a couple of others. Initially, I thought I will get through JEE or AIEEE but every friend of mine has filled up forms for many colleges. After all, students from across the country take these exams and you never know where you stand,” says N. Aravind, a class XII student.

B. Ramakrishnan, former professor, Anna University, also a JEE trainer, says: “A student in these four weeks takes at least eight entrance tests. Those applying for both medical and engineering entrances have more than twelve exams scheduled in sixty days. Some who want to give non-conventional courses a try are in for even greater stress.”

Interestingly, while parents in their attempt to ensure the best options for children end up imposing career choices on them, children are increasingly prone to following the path of their friends and sometimes, even take up non-conventional courses.

“My daughter, after studying biology in class XI and class XII, now wants to work with a campaign such as ‘Save Tigers.' So we have filled up forms in colleges that offer courses in forest management, commercial forestry, wildlife, veterinary sciences,” says R. Sreeram, a businessman. There are only a few courses at the undergraduate level for many such specialised fields and many of these might be expensive. Sometimes, banks refuse to provide loans too and one must be prepared financially as well, he adds.

Hundreds of online tests promise to help find the right career for the student but equally important is the time parents take to understand their children's abilities to guide them suitably. “Students can get their aptitude checked professionally also, but more important is the research they need to put into knowing about the courses they are applying for,” says Mr. Ramakrishnan.

Seeking advice from school seniors is another way to conduct research. Schools should provide adequate counselling because not many parents are aware of the existing career options, he adds.

And it is important to match personal interests with potential careers, says Ms. Aruna. “You cannot dream of your daughter being a doctor when she, after two years of studying biological sciences, tells you she has no interest in the field. The allied fields of botanical, pharmaceutical and modern bio-sciences can be fascinating study options but does she know what the courses contain and if they would interest her — these are the most important concerns to be addressed,” she adds.