Preparations for your future career should start at Secondary 2

(This article by local blogger SGPsychStud first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 27 June 2013.)

Let's start with a story: Assume your grades are good enough to get into Junior College (JC) and University, which you did a degree, e.g. in medicine, law, or engineering. You then work a couple of years, now in mid twenties or probably almost 30 years old. One day, you wake up and start to question yourself on "Why am I trying to pull yourself out of bed and struggling to get to work everyday?" "Do I really like what I am doing everyday?" Then you start to notice that this is not really what you want in your life.

So have you wasted all your youth studying for something you did not want? Some of you may disagree, rebutting with at least you have a job and money to spend. Is getting all that money and job that important, or becoming the best person you can be of more importance?

However, the two questions I pose to you are: "Which subject area do you want to study? and "Why do you want to study that?" Common answers would be like medicine, law, engineering, accounting, etc., but often the reasons are similar, mostly revolving around money and/or ego-feeding self-esteems. Very few people will tell me that they are studying (or pursuing) that degree/diploma for their interests or passions. Despite that, I have seen really seen a classmate of mine who went to do a diploma in architecture, despite having results enough to go to JC, followed by doing a degree in architecture.

Here's my take: I feel that preparation (or the thought of preparation) for your future career should start as early as at the age of 14 in secondary school, before you are set off to decide the subjects you take that might change your future in Secondary 3. With this in mind, you are not only deciding the subjects you are going to study, as well as your career and your future life. Make sure you give it a serious thought about your career, and be committed to it.

It's fine if you are not prepared at Secondary 2. Most of us are not too. According to Erikson, adolescence is a stage of transition from childhood to adulthood, and every individual who goes through this phase are said to experience a conflict between identity and role confusion, seeking their answers of "Who am I and What can I be?" In your search of your own self identity and often reflecting on your past and present, it is normal that you have not considered your own future.

With the education system in Singapore, we are forced (or guided) to make a decision towards our choices of the subjects we take in Secondary 3 and 4, with our results at the end of Secondary 2. My advice often to young students is to take these 2 years very seriously to think about what they want for their future. Let these decisions of what you want to do with your life and studies be your motivator, as well as your direction or goals for you to work towards.

If you are still not sure at the end of Secondary 4, it might be better to go with the JC route; this gives you another 2 years to think about what you want to do. If you have already considered well, the polytechnic route might be good, as it gives you the chance to try out the area. No matter at which stage of education, always do make sure that you study well and hard to enable yourself the best chances to get into the courses you desire.

However, it is of utmost importance that you already know what you want to do in your life by the time you enrol for University; otherwise, you will be in deep trouble, as shown with the example at the beginning of this article.

About The Author

SGPsychStud is the host and author of the the blog: SG Psych Stuff. This is the only informative website about psychology-related stuff for students in Singapore and Asia. The focus of this blog is to educate and inform people who are interested in psychology and/or wish to pursue a career in psychology, i.e. to be a psychologist or any other related careers, in Singapore and surrounding countries in Southeast Asia. The topics covered in the blog include information such as on studying psychology, on becoming a psychologist, reflections by students/people in different stages of their psychological journey, as well as random fun and interesting psychological reflections by the author.