How to Choose the Right Course

Books

Originally published in Mail Today

While career options have widened, finding the right stream continues to be a challenge. Here are a few tips:

Wouldn’t it be naïve to decide on what car to buy by exploring all the bicycles in the market? Like it or not, this is the state of affairs when we are choosing careers and colleges – we look at the past to decide the future. The first step towards making a good decision is to look at what the future holds as you decide about what education to pursue in the present.

The landscape of education has evolved and re-positioned itself to be future-ready. While the scope has widened significantly and students can choose from a wide variety of programmes – narrowing down to the right-fit course has become a huge challenge. Along with the problem of plenty, there is also constant peer and parental pressure to select traditional courses that have worked best in the past.

Here are some steps that will help students select an education stream and a college that will make them happy and future ready.

Look Ahead

History does not repeat itself with careers any more. As I shared earlier, it is not a good idea to decide on your future by looking at the past. The herd mentality with career selection and choices based on historical information are quite common. They often lead to students growing up to be employees that don’t relate to their jobs or get disgruntled with their work. This has a lot to do with the kind of choices they have made as early as high school. It is also an indication of the fact that sound career and college counseling was not available to these individuals and they ended up choosing a subject and a college that was not the right fit for them. As we make decisions today, it is important that our personal passion (hobby) converges with our education, this in turn can lead us into jobs that we love.

Breaking Barriers

Due to parental pressure, fear-based decisions are quite common. Although, they do it out of concern for their children, parents like to influence their child’s career-choices. Seldom do they ask what the child desires to pursue further. This is where the role of a counselor comes to the forefront. While counseling does not help find absolute answers, it allows for comprehensive evaluation of options. As careers and jobs change dramatically, counseling needs to stay dynamic and relevant. Most career choices are made because students are scared of choosing something that is non-traditional. They must choose a course out of love, rather than fear. Professional advice combined with passion, exploration and an open mind can guarantee career success.

Immersive Experience

It is important to acknowledge that a number of careers and jobs today exist at the intersection of multiple areas of study. Today, a liberal arts education, humanities combined with sciences, journalism and technology are relevant pathways. Research will also lead us to the most relevant subject combinations in college. It is important to set-up meetings with the experts and find the path to a career that will keep them happy. For example, spending a day with a doctor, engineer, artist or a program developer will give them an understanding of the job and prepare them on what to expect in the future. Research is also needed on the plethora of colleges that exist on planet. A cost vs value analysis of the college or university you are considering will go a long way in getting the selection right. There are often unexplored scholarship and internship opportunities at certain colleges that add tremendous value to the degree.

Automation Risk

The key to survival in the job market of the future will be “transferable skills”. Communication skills, technology and reasoning skills, data management and artificial intelligence are some of the pieces that every job will need. Acquiring these skills can help insure students against the ongoing disruptive change in the employment world. Technology and artificial intelligence have compelled educators to diversify and modify the learning process. Authors of “The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?” Carl Benedikt Freya and Michael A. Osborne found that nearly 99% of telemarketing jobs are at stake as computerization takes over.

Will a Robot Take Your Job?

HFS Research, a US-based business advisory firm, estimates that automation could lead to a 14 percent decline in India’s IT workforce with 480,000 jobs at risk by 2021. The key to survival in the job market of the future will be “transferable skills”. Communication skills, technology and reasoning skills, data management and artificial intelligence are some of the pieces that every job will need. Authors of The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization? Carl Benedikt Freya and Michael A. Osborne found that nearly 99 percent of telemarketing jobs are at stake as computerization takes over. “Our model predicts that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labor in production occupations, are at risk. These findings are consistent with recent technological developments. More surprisingly, we find that a substantial share of employment in service occupations,where most US job growth has occurred over the past decades are highly susceptible to computerization” wrote the authors.

Practical Approach

The Indian education system has been largely fixated towards theory. While the scores may appear great, there is very little utilization of these skills on the job front. This is where schools are raising the standard and making amends to the traditional format. A practical approach towards learning is the key factor in most schools today and usage of case-study methodology is taking precedence over textbook based learning. Ever since CBSE’s intervention, schools have started imparting knowledge by way of case studies, life-skills training, language and technology workshops and even project management at an early stage, so that pupils receive a holistic learning experience. The prime focus of all these initiatives is to make sure that children are able to find the answers on their own.

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