With the last few days of school life zipping past, students in Class XII have one additional concern that is almost as immediate as the board examinations. Which course next?

A good number of students in the science stream, or importantly, their parents, believe that medicine or engineering are the only courses meant for them and make sure their attention is on them.

For many in the commerce stream, a B.Com degree or Chartered Accountancy seems the next appropriate choice. But every batch has its share of students who, in retrospect, are not sure they took the right decision.

“I was pretty comfortable with the idea of pursuing an engineering degree, but it was a lot of pressure until I actually made it to a college. I know that many of my classmates were there not because they liked it, but because their parents wanted them there,” says S. Karthik, an IT professional.

Krishnakumar, an engineer, is now a budding music director. Not everyone gets an opportunity to return to their passion after completing a conventionally popular course. “It could be very depressing for students to study something they are not interested in. I know of friends who had a very difficult time,” he adds.

B. Abhinaya had originally planned to take up a management course after B.Com. However, she found the B.Com course too dry for her, and decided to explore other options after it.

“I realised that most of us made our decisions regarding college education based on what friends were planning to do, what our parents said and what our teachers believed would be right for us,” she says, adding that it is usually difficult to find students very interested in their course work at undergraduate level, precisely for these reasons.

There are some like Sayeram Umasankar who go by sheer instinct. “I knew that electronics or electrical was not my cup of tea. I was not particularly interested in computers, either. But engines and automobiles sounded so easy to understand and fun to work with, so I chose mechanical engineering. I am quite happy about my choice,” says the IT professional.

On how to make this vital decision, Krishnakumar thinks it is very important for students to visit colleges, interact with faculty, take a look at the facilities before actually deciding what to study and where to study.

Talking to students currently pursuing different courses will also give a good idea, note professionals. “Sometimes, it is possible that certain courses considered valuable are actually not all that good. Only students who pursue it will know of its weaknesses. But, no student should make a decision on one person's opinion. The sample should be large enough,” says S. Vidya, a chartered accountant.

Psychometric tests

This is where psychometric tests can also be of help, says Kalavathi Amarachelvam, career division head of Bodhi, an organisation and people development consultancy.

The organisation has been observing that more and more students opt for these tests that are said to help students identify their areas of strength and accordingly choose the right course or field for them.

“The trend of psychometric tests has picked up really well. Top schools today ask up to put their students through these tests so that they could be guided on choice of stream in Plus-Two, and later,” she says.

“It is all about giving students the right career perspective. Otherwise, they might get boxed into stereotypes, without putting to use what they are really good at,” Ms. Amarachelvam adds.


Beyond traditional thinkingJanuary 18, 2010