Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Career Planning and Choice of Courses

A career is the work a person does. Another definition of a career is the sequence of jobs that an individual has held throughout his or her working life. Career planning is one of the most crucial factors in your life, which needs no emphasis.

When should you begin the career planning? The suitable age that is considered, appropriate for making a start is the age of 14-15 years when you enter the Ninth Class under the 10 + 2 pattern of education. As we all know that this is the formative age to shape your career. Much more important reason, however, is that it is after the 10 + 2 level that a wide variety of course options are available to choose from. This means that as the first step you will have to choose from the three streams viz., science, arts and humanities, and commerce and the appropriate combination of subjects, when you enter the 10+2 level. To a great extent, this choice would determine the course options available to you after the 10 + 2 level. For example, if you want to take up engineering degree course, you should not only join the science stream but should also opt for the combination comprising Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Before you embark upon planning your career you may have to consider two issues:

1. Do you need an immediate job because of some adverse family circumstances?

2. Is your family financially sound enough to pay for your professional education?

Suppose, If you need a job, after completing your 10th because of some adverse family circumstances, and you still want to pursue higher education, there is options available, you can continue your higher studies through distance learning mode. There are now many options available. You can study according to your own pace and convenience. You can even study both the secondary (Class 10) and higher secondary (10 + 2) courses through the distance-learning mode. As regards the second issue, the stark reality is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for many middle class families to meet cost of professional education. Scholarships, are the other boon for them who are not financially sound from the background.It might be that some people were not knowing that in professional colleges there are two categories of seats "free seats" and "payment seats".

Since now a days the tuition fees for "free seats" are highly subsidised, you pay much less compared to those for "payment seats". Generally, "free seats" are allotted to students on the basis of the performance at the entrance tests. You will, therefore, have to strive very hard if you want to get a "free seat" in professional colleges. Career planning should be preceded by two steps:

1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, likings, aptitudes and interests.

2. Gather as much information as possible about the various educational opportunities and choose one that conforms to your assessment.

Both are easier said than done. Therefore, it is necessary for schools establishing their own career and course information centres and provide guidance and counselling to their students. In the absence of such facilities in your school, try to collect information from different sources. Here is a note of caution. Never take the claims of flashy advertisements in newspapers and other media at their face value. More often than not, they are issued by fly-by-night operators to allure unsuspecting students. Ascertain the status of these institutions.

If you don’t want to pursue university education, you may go, after the 10th class, for various Vocational Courses available in different areas. There are many course available at polytechnic, of three-year duration leading to diplomas in different branches of engineering and technology. The advantage of polytechnic courses is that in some branches a diploma holder can make a lateral entry into degree level engineering courses. A clear idea about the vocational courses, therefore, would be helpful in taking an appropriate decision.

As we discussed, at the 10 + 2 level you get three options:

1. The Science Stream

2. The Arts/Humanities Stream and

3. The Commerce Stream.

In Addition, there is the Vocational Stream. The Subjects offered in these streams are given in the Annexure. One problem you may face while choosing the combination of subjects is that the desired one may not be available in many 10 + 2 level institutions (higher secondary schools and junior colleges) Particularly in rural areas. A brief account of each of the streams follows:


There is a common belief that science is the most important subject, compared to humanities or even commerce. There is also a general thought in our society that the best students opt for science. In fact, brilliance and intelligence is not the exclusive preserve of science. If a student is interested in doing engineering courses, such as civil, mechanical, electronics, metallurgy, computers, you have to choose the combination of physics, chemistry and mathematics (PCM). If any one wants take up medicine, dentistry, agricultural science, dairy science or biological sciences (biochemistry, biotechnology), your combination should be biology, physics and chemistry (BiPC). This is also very true that after taking science, one can shift to other two stream, humanities and commerce after 10 + 2. Science also opens up the gateway to a large number of career and course options, even if you cannot make it to the most coveted courses in engineering, medicine or agriculture. In several universities, particularly in the South, besides the usual combinations, such subjects as microbiology, computer science can be chosen at the BSc level.

Apart form doing the degree level courses in science with the conventional combinations you can also choose degree courses in several other emerging professional areas, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, computer, business administration, hotel management, tourism management. You can also choose for courses outside the university stream, such as hotel management, fashion technology, industrial design, packaging, aircraft maintenance engineering, government accredited computer courses and a host of post 10 + 2 level vocational courses. However, if you are very clear that science is not your cup of tea, there is no point in wasting two precious years simply because it keeps many options open.


As we know that it is not widely appreciated that humanities also offer many options after 10 + 2 other than the usual BA degree course. Other than the courses in science and technology areas, they can take up many other courses such as travel & tourism, advertising, journalism, performing arts, business management, etc. Humanities is also the favourite choice of many students who sit for the civil service examinations.


After science, commerce opens up a variety of options after 10 + 2 stage. Some examples are: company chartered accountancy, secretary-ship, cost accountancy, business management, computer. Although chartered accountancy, cost accountancy or company secretary-ship course can be taken up after 10 + 2 (after successfully completing the Foundation Courses) you should be aware that each year only a small percentage of those who take the examinations get through. It may, therefore, be wise to obtain the basic BCom degree first. BCom with Computer as one of the combinations is now a much sought after course

In all the three streams, students can now opt for job-oriented vocational subjects at the first degree level available in selected colleges affiliated to many universities. Another recent development has been the diversification of courses, professional in nature, at the first-degree level itself, although the number is institutions offering such course is still small. International postgraduate programmes of five-year duration after 10 + 2 in several subjects are being introduced by some universities

Whatever stream you may select, you should put in your best efforts, which would surely lead to the path of success. Obtaining high marks in the qualifying examinations will put you in a comparatively better position to get into the course of choice after the 10 + 2 level.