A psychologist and an educator, Upasana Kinra is currently working as a Behavioural and Career Counsellor at DPS International, New Delhi. She is also a Core Skills Trainer with the British Council.
1. What is the right age for deciding a stream (commerce/science/arts) to opt for after Class X? Decision-making is a process and it takes time as there are a variety of factors to be considered.
Every child is different. Some children are clear about their goals from a very early stage. But there is always a large section of students who are not clear even in grade X about the subjects they should pursue. This is quite common. Children have access to different types of information and guidance which impacts their decisions at different stages.
That said, what one should focus on while choosing a subject is his purpose of choosing it and, whether he has a natural flair and liking for it. He should have his future path clearly defined in his mind as that should dictate his choice of the subjects.
2. Can our career vision be different at different age levels?
Yes, the vision can be different at different age levels. ‘Career is not a destination but a journey’. This means that people evolve with time; their preferences and motivations also change with time, which makes them change their career decisions or paths accordingly. A child at age 7 may want to be a teacher when he/she grows up but may want to become an astronaut at age 10 and to be a fashion designer at age 15. This is normal because children go through different stages where different people can influence their decisions or different experiences may motivate them to follow a different path later. The most important thing is that the children should have right guidance along with the freedom to decide.
3. Suppose I like Maths and Science and I like to experiment and engineer with tools! Does it imply that I should go for engineering? What are the requisites for deciding in favor of a particular stream?
If a student likes Math and Science and is also good at these subjects then he/she should consider studying these at the school level; though it may not necessarily imply that he/she should pick engineering as his/her obvious career option. The student should be aware about various other factors also involved like- aptitude in Science and Math, competitive nature of entrance exams, level of preparation required, time and cost involved, employability of the engineering stream being considered, different colleges offering the course, future career path and the job profile of an engineer. He should research well, take guidance from right people and then take an informed decision.
4. How do I choose between passion/hobby and career? Some people say that we should go where our heart is while others say it is very important to have your education in a good subject say engineering/medical/commerce? Now if a child is passionate about soccer, what would be your advice to him?
My advice to children will be to try and balance between academics and their hobbies because it is important that a child develops holistically. A child should make sure that he/she should continue honing his skills in the hobby he is interested in and at the same time try and focus on academics as well. I am sure they must have heard about sportsmen like Rahul Dravid or Anil Kumble who aced academics and cricket at the same time. They have made a name for themselves in sports and are also known for their polished personalities which are a result of their educated background.
5. Functional knowledge apart, what are the behavioural skills that I should cultivate to be successful in whatever I do?
Successful people have certain behavioural skills that keep them at the top and the good news is that these can be learned and cultivated over time.
- They are passionate about what they do and they never look for excuses when things don’t go their way. People are successful not because they don’t fail; they are successful because even when they fail they get up and keep trying till the time they achieve what they want. They are goal-oriented; they set goals for themselves, chalk out a plan and then work wholeheartedly to achieve their goals. l They have a positive attitude, which means that they don’t focus on problems, but they always focus on solutions.
- They are learners at heart; they look for opportunities to learn from every situation and they don’t let anything deter them but instead keep updating their skill sets like- computer skills, communication skills etc.
- Successful people always respect time and use time efficiently. They do not waste much time on non-essential activities but prioritize their tasks very sensibly.
6. Some children may want to study different streams and the combos aren’t available in the current school or country. What to do in that case? Are there specific countries/universities that cater to multi-stream learning?
It is normal for students to have varied interests and they may not want to fit in pigeon holes designed as a result of traditional methods of segregating Science, Commerce and Humanities from each other.
This reminds me of my school days when streams were very rigid and I dreamt of studying both Physics and Economics together but could not do so as flexibility was not allowed. Since the times are changing now more students are getting opportunities to choose according to their liking.
At school level, there is a lot of freedom to choose subjects from different streams in international curriculum like Cambridge and IB, as students can have a combination of their choice- be it Physics, Music and Geography together or even a combination of Accounts, Chemistry and Fine Arts. There are many schools in India which follow these international curriculums and allow students to study what they want to.
Similarly, in countries like the U.S., Canada and, Australia the curriculum in universities is very flexible and the students are free to choose subject combinations as per their liking- a student studying Engineering is free to study Drama or Music or even Literature as an elective if he/she wants.
7. What are your tips for us in the long term?
Success can mean different things to different people. For some, it can mean achieving good grades whereas for some it can be getting a leadership role in the student council. No matter what the goals are, the tools to achieve them will more or less be similar. Some tips which could help you to succeed are-
- Set long-term and short-term goals. Create a realistic schedule and try to follow it with dedication.
- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses so that you can sharpen your strength areas and improve upon your weaknesses.
- Master the art of time management by prioritizing well and minimizing time wasters. Time management is not rocket science, but is just a matter of habit formation.
- Be an active student, which means that take notes during classes, complete assignments in time, participate in class discussions, be a part of school events and look for different opportunities to engage yourself with the school community.
- Find a way to balance well between your academics and extracurricular and actively participate in both. Involve yourself in community service during weekends or summer/winter break.
- Follow a healthy routine by eating healthy and regular meals, taking proper sleep, exercising regularly and regulating screen time.
- Spend quality time with family and friends as these people are your support system.
- Learn to relax by following at least one hobby or an area of your interest outside studies.
- Take initiative, be proactive and look for leadership opportunities, inside and outside school.