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Key factors parents should consider when helping teens make career decisions

Key factors parents should consider when helping teens make career decisions
January 29, 2019 Eastern Newspaper

By Martin Kathurima

This discussion has been left out to the teenies but parents should help in research, discuss cost and other key topics while giving their children freedom to make the final choice. Universities should also come out with facts.

A number of teens are faced with the life changing decision on the best courses and College/ Universities choices due to divergent views, ideologies and un-met or un-communicated expectations from the students themselves and parents alike.

Most teenagers have had no experience in the Academic world beyond their high school surrounding and therefore lack insight when making decisions on courses to pursue and where to study.

Parents are expected to take a leading role in this matter to and guide their children, but this is mostly left out to the teens themselves to figure it out or in some cases to aunties and uncles.

Here are key factors to consider while making that lifetime decision.


Leaving this decision to a teenager is an exciting experience but a responsibility that can stress them. Parents are expected to show support especially in research for the well-being of their children.

Parents should offer their support by doing research on the choice of courses their teens wish to undertake guided by their children academic performance. In the modern world, research is as simple as downing a glass of water, thanks to our digital era.


One of the key features of the current job market is lack of skilled personnel. Most graduates have been termed as half-baked due to their inability to use their school knowledge at the place of work.

It goes without saying that the government has invested billions in equipping our technical and vocational institutions and from my interaction with these institutions, it worth noting that immense resources have been put in the construction and equipping of modern classrooms, laboratories, workshops, libraries etc. with the sole aim of bridging the gap in skills.

As an academician, I would propose to the relevant authorities that we come up with a policy that will see post high school students enrolled for one year in a technical or vocational institution for a technical course immediately after completing their fourth form. Thereafter they can get placed to the universities. This will give the youngsters enough time to mature mentally, physically and socially and thus enable them to make sound decisions on courses and their to be alma-mater.

In-fact universities should embrace this with open arms by creating working relations with these technical colleges. For instance, Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Universities should target key Technical institutes as their kind of ‘recruitment agencies’. Unlike today where these two institutions are acting like competitors. The relationship between Universities and Polytechnics should be a symbiotic academic relationship.


Most colleges will offer award letters with differing financials. This gives the parents and students the chance to ascertain government grants therefore helping determine net costs. It is at this point that parents should take the leading role and do thorough research, comparison and correlate with their financial ability. It is disheartening to see students locked out of exams rooms due to fee arrears; sadly, this is a common occurrence in Kenyan universities.

With this information parents and students can reach harmonious decisions on where and what the teen can pursue. It is at this juncture that a decision on self-sponsorship or government sponsorship can also be made. It again goes without saying that students who have insisted on pursuing degrees in top private universities while overlooking their not so well-of family backgrounds are exposed to ridicule leading to demoralization once the haves and the have-nots meet in the University environment in pursuance of knowledge. Mark-you I’m not championing for the establishment of schools in line with these two divides but this is a factor parents and students can’t afford to overlook.


Word has it there are a number of universities that have been financially crippled by the ‘Matiangi policies’ as the government moves in to tame Kenyans appetite for ‘ a degree for any Tom, Dick and Harry ‘. Evidential claims show that universities have in the past depended on their Schools of Business and Human Resources to finance their needs as the departments were turned into cash cows. A department with 4,500 students each paying school fees Kes 90,000 would generate figures beyond 405M per semester…why not call them cash-cows?

What next?

Most Universities have found themselves operating in a hand to mouth kind of lifestyle thanks to recent measures put in place by the ministry of education with most varsities struggling to pay salaries and suppliers on time. At this rate, carrying placards and tree twigs might become part of (DILO) Day In Life Of University lecturers and administrative staff.

A number of lecturers have become demoralized and this may result in the rise of half-baked graduates, a menace we are all running away from. It goes without saying that cases of students suffering ”missing marks’ (the new elephant in the room in the higher education sector) could be as a result of demoralized staff members.

It is the role of parents to ask the hard questions and secure for their children slots in universities that will offer value for the student’s time and money.


Finally a key area to research on is what we can term as career outcome of the universities. How are the graduands of specific Universities fairing in the job market? Is the university well linked with the job market or industry players? Is the University in a position to help their children attain their career goals? This can be addressed by looking into how the alumni fair in the job market.

Universities should embrace this fact and avail the factual data on their websites.

It is therefore evident that parents have a role to play in collaboration with their children in securing value in education and getting the best out of them.


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