Students, parents battle to choose college major

By Ghadeer Ghloum

KUWAIT: Stuck between following their passion, finding the best jobs, acquiring social prestige, obeying parents’ pressure and other factors, high school graduates remain indecisive about what to major in at university. University degrees play a major role in deciding what these students are going to become and how their life will look like in terms of social prestige, title and income. This makes making a solid decision on where to continue their journey a heavy responsibility for high school graduates, especially with society’s preference of certain jobs and titles, which pushes students towards certain majors that might not suit their interests and passions.

“There are two reasons why students are pushed towards certain professions such as engineering, medicine or law: The prestige that comes with these professions (something to boast about and be proud of), and the presumed demand for these professions,” author and educator Haider Al-Mosawi told Kuwait Times. Classifying certain jobs as successful and higher than others creates a race not only among students to acquire such titles, but also their parents, as many parents push their children towards studying medicine or engineering, believing that this will give them social prestige.

Haider Al-Mosawi

“While it’s important for parents to support their children and help them make wiser decisions about their career path, it’s also important to keep the following factors in mind: Prestige isn’t the only (or most important) factor when deciding a career path. It’s really important to also value passion and curiosity. I know someone who gave up a job paying KD 8,000 a month so he can build his own startup. This may not make sense to many people, but it’s quite common for people to continue working in jobs that make them miserable. That’s not a definition of success or an outcome we should encourage our children to pursue,” Mosawi said.

Mosawi spoke about the real definition of success, saying despite society defining only a few posts as successful, reaching such positions without genuine passion and satisfaction cannot be considered a success. He also emphasized on the importance of keeping up with the emerging opportunities that the future is promising.

“There are so many career paths that can both be lucrative and fulfilling for our children. The Internet has unleashed many opportunities parents and students may not know about or be comfortable, because it’s a new field for them. Unfortunately, career advisors might also be lagging behind when it comes to emerging opportunities and what the careers of the future will be like. ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot, recently demonstrated how fast the future is approaching, and what we thought would happen in the distant future is already here,” he said.

According to Mosawi, parents and students should start pulling themselves out of the old beliefs, as the future is giving rise to new jobs and replacing others. Hence, sticking to their old opinions on certain majors will not necessarily secure the supposed expectations. “What I would recommend: Don’t just value the prestige that comes with the profession. Value the happiness, satisfaction and meaning your children will derive from their work. Besides, we’ve seen many successful individuals shift careers a number of times, and we should expect this to happen with our children, with each shift bringing its own experiences and joys,” Mosawi pointed out.

He also stressed on the effect parents have on their children during this phase of their life, being fresh high school graduates. “Parents should remain open-minded about new career paths. Instead of dictating what their children should do, it’s best to discuss the pros and cons of the available options with their children and support them in what they choose to pursue,” said Mosawi.

The post Students, parents battle to choose college major appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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