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Who Should Decide a Student’s Career Choice? Parents’ Diktat or Self-Calling?

ET Cases, 7 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Syed Abdul Samad and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Who Should Decide a Student’s Career Choice? Parents’ Diktat or Self-Calling?

Kung Fu Panda: Po’s father wants Po to give up his dream of becoming a Kung Fu warrior and work in his noodle restaurant. The villagers, Master Shifu and the Furious Five (Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane), ridicule him for his rotund frame, except Grand Master Oogway (the wise and old tortoise). But, Po believes in himself, trains harder and defeats the evil Tai Lung (Leopard). Po finally becomes an inspiration for all the villagers.

3 Idiots: Remember the dialogue where Farhan says in the background, “1978… I was born at 5.15pm… At 5.16pm, my father announced, ‘My son will be an Engineer. Farhan Qureshi, B. Tech, Engineer.’… And my fate was sealed… What I wanted to be… no one asked.” Thus, Farhan Qureshi, who aspires to be a wildlife photographer, joins engineering due to his father’s wishes and struggles to get good grades.

Dangal: Mahavir Singh Phogat is forced by his father to give up wrestling in order to get gainful employment. Dejected that he could not win a gold medal for his country, he vows that his son will.

Such instances happen in most of the Indian families. Parents direct their children towards a career of their own choice rather than letting the children make a choice. The parents see children as vehicles to their unfulfilled dreams. They try to fulfil their own ambitions (of becoming/achieving something that they could not during their times) through their children. Or rather are of the opinion that the children cannot make a good career decision on their own, and hence they are only helping their children in making a better choice. But, in the process, parents impose their own career choices on their children giving no option to the children’s interests or their abilities and talent.

During 1970s and 1980s, most of the students were directed towards acquiring government jobs. In the 1990s, it was engineering (Exhibit I). In the late 1990s, it was software and the 2000s saw a rise in demand for management courses. And the future might see students rushing towards being data scientists/analysts.

The trend started in the 1990s, when parents would force their kids towards studying engineering (and some into medicine), as if these were the only career options available. If this was not achieved by the kids, then the parent would start rambling about how others’ kids were focused on their careers and theirs’ are not, and what the society would talk about their family, and so on........


Exhibit I: Why Indian Kids are Taking up Engineering and Medicine

Exhibit II: Top 10 Courses after Class 12th in India

Exhibit III: List of Highest Paying Jobs in India

Exhibit IV: 13 Interesting and Off-Beat Courses Offered by Indian Universities

Teaching Note Preview

Who Should Decide a Student’s Career Choice? Parents’ Diktat or Self-Calling?


The purpose of this Teaching Plan is neither to outline the answers to Case Debate’s discussion questions nor to suggest an ideal way of conducting an effective debate basis the given topic. It is more to share the authors’ perspectives, basis their classroom orchestration of this Case Debate, on possible ways of orchestrating this Case Debate.

Purpose of the Case Debate

Purpose of this Case Debate, which is a prelude to the Case Method of Teaching, is to inculcate the following skills [Exhibit (TP)-I] that would amply benefit the participants during their careers........

As this Case Debate is based on a very generic topic, the purpose is not to dwell into only the research-based inputs but more to prepare the students/participants for the process of case discussion – except that while the case discussion would be based on the case facts, the Case Debate encourages the students/participants to present their ideas with no rigorous business dilemma..................



Exhibit (TP)-II: Classroom Orchestration Plan – Who Should Decide a Student’s Career? Parents’ Diktat or Self Calling?



Rs 0
Product code: OB-9-0071, OB-9-0071A


Who decided what you should study and what career to pursue? Was it you or parents? Many a times, the students end up pursuing a 'forced' stream due to parental and societal pressure. This Case Debate is meant to help the participants understand the importance of choosing one's career and its decision-making process. Its purpose is to generate a debate in the class whether should students make their own career choice or follow the choice of their parents, friends and relatives? Most importantly, should a student succumb to others wishes or should he/she follow his/her true calling? There was a time, in ancient India, when children used to take up their father's profession forward - a blacksmith's son would be a blacksmith and a goldsmith's sons would be a goldsmith, etc. This practice changed with the times and modern education gave numerous other opportunities to students in terms of career choices. However, the Indian parents seem to be still stuck in the age-old mindset of choosing what is right for their children and making career choices for them. Most of the students take up courses/careers selected by their parents, as they consider these professions (Engineer, Doctor, CA, Government job, etc.) to be respected in the society and would give financial security. While there are many other off-beat and unconventional courses/careers that offer equally good pay, the parents' lack of knowledge (read disinterest) about these modern careers keeps them away from encouraging their children in pursuing these fields. Even the children/students do not have sufficient knowledge about the various career choices after completing 10th standard, as till then they were trained to get good grades instead of nurturing their talents. So, how should students select the career of their choice? Should parents interfere in their children's career decision? What should be the role of parents in this issue? Who should take the final call - parents diktat or self-calling?

This Case Debate centers around: (a) Understanding the importance of a career in one's life (b) The decision-making process of choosing a career (c) Role of parents in the career decisions of the children

Purpose of this Case Debate, which is a prelude to the Case Method of Teaching, is to inculcate the following skills that would amply benefit the participants during their careers:

(a) Ideation
(b) Discussion and Debate
(c) Empathy
(d) Appreciation

Case Debate Positioning and Setting

This Case Debate can be used for:

  • MBA Program – Organizational Behavior Course – To sensitize the participants about the individual personality traits and attitudes that help individuals in their decision-making process
  • Undergraduate Programs/BBA Programs – To sensitize the participants about the importance of their career choices, the decision-making process and the parents’ role in the decision-making process of their children’s career choice

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Debate
- Teaching Plan (**ONLY for Academicians)

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