I truly wish I knew how to choose a career path when I was in High school. Although there was occasional career talk but they weren’t as informative as they should be. I remember going to the office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to change my purposed course of study from the randomly chosen Medicine and Surgery to Chemistry simply because I didn’t score enough points to be able to gain admission to the program at the Nigeria nation’s pride university, the University of Lagos. Even though, I strove hard to be ahead of my academics as a growing kid, my goal of becoming a medical doctor suddenly came to a halt; my purposed career path suddenly got thwarted by a mere twist of fate. My story could be different if there was a proper mentoring program for high school kids that we were. If you went to a public school in Lagos, Nigeria, you will probably relate to the idea of randomly choosing a program to study at the University or Polytechnic. As much as I tried to take responsibility for my actions, failure and success, I will probably have studied something entirely different from Medicine and Chemistry, if there was a structure in place to encourage career mentoring for high school kids. In this article, I will be discussing things I wish I knew before starting my program at the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
First, it is important to know that anyone can become anything career wise. There are three main factors that compete with us in deciding what to do with our lives as we progress in academics. These are family, exposure and the society. The society we live in has a great influence on whatever course of life we choose to take. Particularly, the place where we live and the family from which we came both play a significant role in the career path we end up taking. However, our innate personality and charisma have an overriding power over these factors. That is why it is possible to see someone who hail from an all-engineers family and live at the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) ending up to study Islamic Religious Knowledge at the University. So, our society and exposure will only attempt to introduce us to certain careers in life but we have the ultimate power to decide what path we want to take. I wish every high school kid would know about this; I wish parents can support their kids as they choose whatever course of study they decide to go for; I wish that girl studying for her next GCE, only to secure a passing grade in Physics, knew she could be better off studying economics. I wish I knew the prospects of all programs in the university before buying the JAMB admission form.
Whatever career path student intends to dive into, it is important to know the trends, records and influencers in that field. This is one big thing most students don’t get to learn even in the University. I wish students can think on this before applying for any program in the university. For example, in the computer programming world, the current trend is now artificial intelligence. That singular information is very important for any students trying to learn some programming languages. Why study PHP, why not Python? Why study Accounting, why not History or Adult Education? Many of us never pulsed to ask ourselves these questions because we are often caught up in the rush for the stereotyped life that our family and society has silently created for us. To have a lasting and successful career, these questions need to be answered early on in our career. While being passionate is usually considered a factor that pushes anyone to study a course in the university, it’s not generally the case for most people and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Here is why! Passion is a strong positive feeling for an envisioned career. There are lots of problems with following passion as a guide to a career. There is a deep emotion that goes with passion – it’s based on how you feel. Feelings in themselves are subjective and so not trustworthy. Often, positive feelings towards an envisioned career come because of some deep emotional experiences and totally ignore the actual ingredients necessary for success. For instance, a high school senior student lost his dad to cancer while he was preparing for WAEC and then became passionate about saving lives. I don’t encourage such strong emotional experience in deciding what career path to take. Choosing a successful and sustainable career is the function of your innate design not one untrustworthy emotionalism of passion.
Anyone can do absolutely any program in the university because we are all brilliant from birth and the brain is mostly active around 19 and 20. However, many students get carried away because of peer pressure and the enormous strength they possess at that stage. It is important to know that how you spend that phase of your life goes a long way to determining your career success. Most students transited from High school to the university as teenagers and young adults but not all students achieve academic excellence. There are many factors that potentially contribute to students’ success in any course of study – I discussed some of them on my article title ‘Why Students Fail’. In addition to that, I hope we can understanding the potential of our brain. If you have an average brain, you are capable of almost anything. The brain can process more than 2 million bits of information in one second! It never forgets anything you’ve ever seen; anything you’ve ever heard. So, with something like that sitting up there, why would someone ever fail a class? Think about that for a second. It’s either you are not in the right career path or you just have misplaced priority. The person who has the most influence on what happens to you in life is you. Period!
In conclusion, as students, there are many factors competing with you as you reach for a successful and sustainable career path but the final decision as to which way to go is in your hand. The reason for studying a program in the university must be known before even applying for it. The society will attempt to define who you are but listen to your inner voice to determine your career path. Experiences will always happen but they shouldn’t necessarily impose a career on you. The Bible says, the glory of the youth is their strength, don’t get carried away; make hay while the sun shines. Everyone is brilliant from birth. Choose your career wisely!