Zeroing in on a stream of study after class X requires students to strike a balance between interests and aptitude, say experts.

The vast array of career options that students have these days often makes it difficult for them to pick a stream, commerce and humanities after class X. The decision becomes harder when students are unsure of their capabilities vis-a-vis a particular set of subjects. Moreover, what works for one student may not necessarily work for another. The decision needs to be made keeping in mind various factors, say experts.

Mix of factors

Advises Anubhuti Sehgal, a Delhibased career counsellor, “At the age of 16, students may not be sure of their inherent skills. More often than not, students take a career call on the basis of peer pressure or the potential salary they can earn after a degree in that stream. A career counsellor would suggest that they make a choice on the basis of three factors -aptitude, personality and interest. Unfortunately, students give more importance to their interests while paying little attention to their aptitude and personality.”

Some experts, however, say learners should be flexible while choosing a stream. “If one is a logical thinker, assertive and have a good command of the language, they can do well as advocates.However, even if you don’t have these skills, you can sharpen them over a period of time. So, the approach is to try to apprise students of their strengths and weaknesses in tune with the career they wish to choose. Accordingly, they can work on their skills and decide their career path,” says Ali Khwaja, a Bangalore-based counsellor.

Offbeat options

Counsellors suggest that choosing the wrong discipline can lead to frustration and under performance in some cases. They also dissuade students from ignoring mainstream subjects for the sake of an offbeat career. For, the off beat options can be consid ered even after stu dents complete their formal education. Advises Sehgal, “There is no harm in choosing a career in fashion photography, cricket or travel writing but one must be sure that they are not doing it only to avoid the rigour of formal education. Moreover, they must be informed that while there may be fewer people opting for offbeat fields, competition is stiff and success may not come easily.”

Reality check

Pervin Malhotra, a Delhi-based counsellor, recommends a reality check. “One has to be realistic about choosing the subjects in sync with their career goals. Having said that, it is advisable to keep your options open and study mainstream subjects until you are sure of what you want to do.” However, there are others who argue that even if one is a bright student, they may not always be able to ace every and any stream they home in on. In other words, someone good at quantitative subjects may not necessarily perform well in the social sciences, and vice versa. DR Saini, principal, Delhi Public School, RK Puram, Delhi, concludes, “Students must base their choice of subjects on the matrix of their past scores and personal interest.”

G Ramamurthy

Deputy principal, Loyola College, Chennai Due to the popularity of crossdisciplinary careers, one should not worry too much about the stream at a young age. Most engineers go on to study an MBA and make a career in business management. Similarly, a number of science graduates read law and become lawyers -this option was traditionally meant for those from a humanities background. So, one can opt for multiple streams across one’s academic life. However, it is a good idea to aim for a career and then plan backwards while choosing a stream. One must remember that merely finishing a degree is not adequate to prepare for a career. The reputation of the university or college is equally important.

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