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8 BLUNDERS students make while deciding a career stream

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Purva Arora, career coach, Manushya Consulting tells us why it is important to choose a career that matches one's aptitude and interest. Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

Every student would ideally like to choose a stream that will enable them to have a career that leaves their life fulfilled.

However it is difficult to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life at the tender age of sixteen or eighteen.

Choosing the right stream of education to pursue is the first biggest academic decision a student makes in his/her career.

It is also the one most filled with mistakes (for some), ranging from choosing a stream at the wrong time to choosing it for the wrong reasons.

Here are eight of the most common blunders students make while deciding a stream and advice on how to avoid them.

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1. Choosing a career to fulfil your parent's dream

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Parents want the best for their children and with these intentions often they impose their career choices for their children.

At the same time children should respect their parents for their intentions.

However, parents must be careful not to steer their children to do something that they themselves like or prefer.

Rather, children should be encouraged to choose a stream that best suits their talent and abilities.

2. Choosing a stream without restrospecting

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

At times, one needs to look inside before looking outside and very often at this tender age, help is required.

Every child has some special qualities and certain weaknesses.

Every child has a personality and interests.

The interest does not necessarily lead to a very specific career path but the choice of stream should be based on trying to maximise skills and capabilities of the child.

Parents need to talk to their children very patiently and help them understand the difference between various streams.

Help can also be taken from a career management professional at this stage.

3. Choosing a stream without doing proper research

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Very often students make decisions based on their limited knowledge or pre conceived notions.

At 16 or 18, they see the world as they know, not as the world really is. It is difficult to peep in to the reality of every profession however assumption is also not the best foundation of a decision.

If you do not want to listen to your parents or elders, ensure that you find time to do your own research.

Talk to other people in your network of family and friends who you think are better informed about your intended stream of choice.

Research on the internet. Get all the relevant information before you send your application to a college or university

4. Ignoring the results of an aptitude test

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Between lack of introspection and conducting proper research, a BIG mistake that many students make at times is not getting their aptitude checked professionally.

In order to choose a stream that is right for students, it is advisable that students take an aptitude test that will allow them to know their personal strengths, weaknesses, skills and intelligence in different fields.

An aptitude test is a standardised test that helps in determining the probability of a person's success in some activity in which he/she has not yet been trained.

It can be quite helpful for student as it can provide them with options that they had never thought of before and can also confirm if a particular career path that the student has always wanted to explore will be good for them or not.

Hence, the second step towards choosing a subject stream is to match personal interests with potential careers.

It is not advisable to dream of being a doctor when the student is aware that h/she has no aptitude for science.

Choose a stream which is in synchronicity with your interests and aptitude.

5. Choosing a stream with maximum advantage

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Many students opt for science stream even if they are not good at the subjects just to keep their options open.

This belief is not valid any longer.

There is no point in forcing oneself to take up subjects they are not good at in the first place.

It is a common misconception that taking science in the eleventh standard offers the widest scope to a student.

Each stream has a lot of career paths and options available in today's day and age.

6. Not having a goal in mind

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

"My best friend Anoushka is taking up commerce. We are childhood friends. I cannot imagine living my life without her. We will go to college together!" exclaimed Sania.

Anoushka took up commerce because her elder brother studied commerce and he had enough of time to hang around with his friends and party out at night.

His college life was so much fun and there was not so much of pressure to study. He just needed to graduate and this was the easiest path.

He did not even know what he would do with his life. Anoushka was waiting to get out of school so she could have more control of her and time and not so much of a routine.

Sania just wanted to be with her friend and do exactly what she was doing. But does that mean you are going to be happy with your decision for life? Not necessary.

It is important to have a plan.

If you don't take control of where you are headed in life then life will take control of you. Having a goal is of utmost importance while deciding your career.

7. Choosing a career based on a role model

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Every child grows up with a role model in mind.

This role model can be a family member, a person known to them or a famous personality.

More often than not a student's aim in life will centre on their role model.

However the role model's profession may not always be the best suited profession for the child as the child may be interested in pursuing the profession but may not have the aptitude or capabilities to excel in the same profession.

8. Choosing a career for money

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 18:26 IST

Certain careers are very alluring because of the salary and other benefits they offer.

Be careful. Money is a very important element and understanding monetary returns for certain professions is important.

However that is not a basis for a career decision.

Money does not always buy happiness. Remember that you may make more money, but if you don't enjoy what you are doing you'll probably be spending that money on stress management and health related expenses.

Also, it's very difficult to bet on what the most lucrative or prestigious jobs will be three to ten years from now. The focus should be on enjoying what you would do and the money will surely follow.

Choosing a career is generally not a one-time decision; it's a series of decisions, made as you progress through different stages of life, experience, and responsibility.

The earlier one starts, the better it is and it starts with picking the right stream.