What to study in college: Leave it to Gen Y – Parents must not Interfere

A father talking to his child

Ultimately, the decision of what to study in college should rest with the student, and not the parents.

It’s admission time again. For the students who have completed Class XII it’s a time of anxiety and for their parents, it’s a nightmare! As the kids are wondering about the marks they are going to get, the parents are too busy deciding what their wards are going to study! Maybe many have decided what their wards will study and are now only thinking about the institution where they will study! Even though this is the order of the day in most families, it’s time to have a re-look at it.

Gen Y students are known as ‘netizens’ and the Internet to which they are hooked to always, makes them well informed — many a time much more informed than the parents. They are also known for their extraordinary networking skills and have more friends than we could ever imagine. Of course, it includes virtual friends too. They have an urge to be independent and decide their future! Parents, because of their enthusiasm, lack of trust in their wards, the feeling that only they know everything and the fear that their kids will make mistakes, want to decide their wards’ future, seldom realizing that it will boomerang. The parents’ fear may be true and real in a few cases. The parents are not being blamed here; only their ignorance resulting from their anxiety is highlighted.

This is reflected in one of the frequently asked questions, “Sir, please tell me which is the best degree program for my son/daughter?” And in many cases, parents decide that their ward will be an engineer and ask, “Which branch of engineering is best for my ward?” It has to be understood that these are the wrong questions to be asking. Parents should realize that they should not be the deciding authority in this matter. Instead, they should be mentors and give inputs in a friendly manner, based on their experience and knowledge. But ultimately, they should let their wards decide.

The right fit

Every individual student has unique characteristics, capacity, and talents. As they grow, they also develop the urge to become something, maybe based on their role models or what they have heard from people whom they respect. For success in life, one’s career should match well with his/her characteristics, capacity, talents and dreams. Deviation in this creates problems in growth.

Some may argue that this is not the case, quoting their personal experience of doing well, even after choosing a career which is not of their choice and forced by parents! Point to be understood here is that the parents are Gen X and the grandparents are Boomers. Obeying elders and adapting to life situations was then a reality. But it’s Gen Y that is under question now, and so it is necessary to respect their feelings, instead of thrusting your views on them.

For a bright future, what matters are the right attitude, deep knowledge, and appropriate skills one acquires during college days, in his/her chosen field of study. One’s interest and involvement to equip oneself well while in college is the key. That can’t be and shouldn’t be forced.

Hence, parents should motivate the students to explore themselves and decide on the degree program and the branch of study of their choice. Guidance can come from parents or others, but the final decision must be that of students.

There is nothing like a ‘good degree program’ or a ‘bad degree program’. All are good degree programs if the student equips himself/herself well and is job-ready. The same program may become bad if the student does not take interest in studies and doesn’t equip himself/herself well. What parents and others mean by a ‘good program’ is whether it will be easy to get a job. Getting a job is not dependent on the program of study but depends on how good the candidate is equipped in attitude, knowledge, and skills to stand tall in this highly competitive world.

A recent survey revealed that India will have a more than 17 million strong workforce by 2020! That may mean unemployment for many people. But the same survey indicated that the workforce will face a deficit of more than 20 million in other regions, including U.S., Europe, and China. Jobs may not be available in India, but they will be, elsewhere. Taking the degree program or branch of study of one’s choice based on individual’s traits and tastes, being well-equipped to compete in the global market should be the focus of every student and parent.


– Written by Anand Samuel, Vice Chancellor, VIT University.

Source: The Hindu

(All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent MentorYes’s viewpoint or recommendations. Readers are advised to consider and evaluate the views presented here before implementing them in their preparation or otherwise.)