Parental Influence on A Student's Career Choice

Rahama Obadak
Marketing & Comms, Flexisaf

The achievement of children growing up has always been a matter of interest to many parents and after years of investing in their child’s formal & informal education, they often wonder what their child will do when they grow up. More often than not,they play a crucial role in guiding their children’s career choices. The question being explored within the educational realm is “Does steering a child towards a particular career choice affect the child’s performance?”.The Titbits of Parental Influence on Career ChoiceAs with all aspects of a child’s development, parents are in the unique position in terms of knowing their child and mentoring them. In fact, some say the driving force behind our career inclination is our upbringing and the nurturing we get from our parents.When it comes to education, some parents have this belief that in order for their child to be successful, they have to follow the child every step of the way & make sure he/she makes the right choice leading to a successful career. The results of a study at Michigan State University, US showed that only about 41% of students chose to pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career in higher institution if parental influence was cited.For those who don’t know, STEM courses are crucial to Nigeria’s technological advancement.Most times, these children are often compelled to follow predetermined career paths without the purveyors considering the child’s potential, choices & academic abilities. The single most influential factor? Parental Background. Personally, I have met a few Lawyers who come from a long line of Lawyers so it only made sense that the next person in line would be a Lawyer. My verdict? Parents owing to personal idiosyncrasies, pressure their child into taking up family occupations and other careers even when they do not possess requisite abilities.However, the result of not allowing the child to make a decision of their own, could also be setting them up to fail. One study done in a secondary school in Odeda LGA, Ogun State found that parental influence over career choice has a significant impact on the student’s wellbeing & development; frustration sets in with accompanying decline in productivity and in turn performance. They are left with no choice, as they sit through countless lectures and spend hours studying for a course (they may eventually not practice later in life) only to come out with poor results at the end of the semester.

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On that note, it is no question that parents can put pressure on a child which will in turn affect how productive they are and that determines how well they perform. Parents must come to understand the gravity of their actions which has the potential to make or break a child in their chosen career. They must also be open to accepting the fact that the child in question also has choices,and should be given a chance to make decisions concerning his/her future without compromising on their parent’s words of wisdom.