5 simple tips to helping your child pick the right university course

The run-up to choosing the right course begins much before a child enters University.

Guidance from parents set the framework, teachers help in nailing the canvas to the frame and the child draws his interests over it, based on his skill sets and exposure. Which career path a child takes depends on his or her aptitude. As a parent, it’s normal to wonder what is the right time to talk about career options with your carefree kid. The focus, for the parents, should be as much academics as holistic upbringing. 

Some enthusiastic parents may be tempted to plot their child’s career even before he or she is out of diapers! We are not here to discuss if they are right or not. What we will talk about, however, is exercising restraint and keeping to the three golden rules of wait, watch, and support.


Allow your child to dream. He might want to be a wizard, while she longs to don the uniform of Santa’s little helper. Maybe he wants to be a zoo keeper, she might want to explore the icy lands of Arendelle. Encourage them to dream, to share their imagination, and discuss how hard they would have to work as Santa’s helper or toil at memorising all the magic spells to become a great wizard. Knowingly, you are introducing the concept of hard work in young minds. 


Slowly but surely, the child will move out of his or her fantasy to look at life as it is. The onus of facing reality, of course, falls on parents’ shoulders. It could be as simple as talking about the importance of a mailman’s job or how school teachers tirelessly make each subject interesting using examples and explanations. If your child is good at writing stories, introduce him/her to books. Cheer him/her on to write a small paragraph daily. If a child shows interest in gardening, fire their passion by talking about how a tree grows from a mere sapling or seed. Who knows, there might be a future botanist or a landscape artist in the making! For now, you as a parent can only motivate them to explore their interests. Don’t just start shortlisting universities just yet. 


As a parent, having your child grow into a happy and successful working adult is no doubt your primary wish. Identifying his or her strength is critical to nudging him/her towards their forte. Experts say the right time to do this (and do this gently) is as the child finishes secondary level or when they are in their teens. Their aptitude and interests need to be taken into consideration. Instead of projecting your dreams onto them, consider what your child would be good at, has skills for, or is inquisitive about.

Academic interest

All through their schooling, you need to be gentle but firm in their focus on academics. Encourage them to take advantage of the school and home resources to do well academically. If they need help with certain subjects, dive in to help yourself, mentors, or get them tutored. Education is the pathway to leading a happy and content life – preach this not through words but through examples of persons they look up to.

Long term goal, short term plans

Once you have a fair idea about what your children are good at and which direction their careers may go, support them to strengthen their knowledge or skill sets. For example, assume a child has a green thumb and a phenomenal interest in plants, send him/her to work part-time in a nursery or enrolled in some green club. If it is music they are interested in, get them to participate in school bands or get private training to enhance their skills. These short-term engagements will tell you and your child if these interests can indeed turn into a serious vocation.

It’s not unusual for children to not be able to figure out which way to steer their careers, or which university course to opt for. Let such children take their time getting a good A-level score. The rest will fall into place because sometimes being pragmatic works better.


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