Teenagers choose their studies and career using different criteria. Some of the most common ones are:
- Correlation with school subjects and personal academic achievements – Often teenagers choose a university or a profession based on their learning abilities, excluding professions that are associated with courses they did not do well in (e.g. Mathematics, Ancient Greek, Physics).
- Personal ability to practice a profession – Stereotypes on the nature of a job may hinder or dissuade students from choosing it. A distorted, generalised idea about the practical aspects of a profession may deter many candidates (e.g. I have a fear of blood, therefore, I cannot become a doctor).
- Working independently or with others – All the more teenagers wish to be their own bosses, not take orders from others and be independent in their future profession. Accepting the fact that all professions entail some sort of a relationship with a supervisor or responsibilities to others, e.g. the customers of the company they run, helps teenagers understand how this particular criterion for choosing a career is difficult to implement in the real world of work.
- Working hours – In combination with free time, i.e. the shortest possible work hours with the highest possible pay. Often teenagers are looking for this ideal combination, which is not always possible; especially at the start of one’s career.
- Family and previous personal experiences – Students are usually more familiar with professions that are found in their family environment; they know more about them and usually feel more comfortable with them. Often, family members push children to choose their professions, in the hopes of securing their professional future. Of course, the choice should ultimately lie with the teenager.
- Work that is in line with personal principles and values – It should encompass those values that the teenager considers necessary, such as freedom, recognition, fame, high pay, etc.
- Educational requirements for the job market (professional rights) – In many countries, a lot of jobs are bound by the so-called professional rights, which define the qualifications an individual must possess to practice the profession. The ability to obtain those rights is a decisive factor for choosing the right field of study.
- Cost of studies – Greek public universities charge no tuition fees for undergraduate studies. Postgraduate degrees in Greece entail a fee, as do all undergraduate or postgraduate courses of foreign universities and private colleges. The cost of studies depends on the course chosen, the city of study and the student’s lifestyle. Many teenagers choose schools they are not so keen on, but which are closer to the large urban centres where their families live. In this manner, at times of recession, the choice of studies and career is determined firstly by the city of study and secondly by the students’ wishes, because of the cost factor.
- Work income – The pay promised by popular professions is one parameter that often plays a decisive role in the final choice. It is important to stress to students that even with professions that traditionally offer higher pay, there are no absolute guarantees and not all professionals enjoy the same income. Moreover, young professionals do not normally enjoy a high income at the start of their careers.
- Lifestyle associated with career choice – The possibility to travel, the fame that accompanies a certain profession, the powerful connections and the good life are some of the criteria students lay down when choosing their studies and career. No job can guarantee all these things from the start.
- Absorbability – Often students and their parents are looking for stability at work and guaranteed absorbability. Professions associated with immediate recruitment at public offices are often chosen for this reason.
o Role models – The media showcases professionals with celebrity status, fame, money, beauty, etc. A lot of teenagers dream about taking the “easy” path of becoming a celebrity. It is important to stress to teenagers that achieving this particular goal is based more on luck and favourable coincidences, and that emulating this kind of success is a difficult feat.
The tips were compiled by Vicki Pavlidi, Special Educator (MA), Educational Psychologist (MSc, HCPC/UK) and Career Counsellor (MA).