Globalisation, the knowledge economy and changing technology and consumer needs mean that the future into which students enter upon completion of their university education is dynamic.
During and after admission to the university, the child meets other students who are torn over career choices and discussions and informal consultations take place.
The student’s passion and choice starts to reveal themselves as he/she shares with peers.
The senior peers chip in, giving their advice with regard to the future job prospects and performance trends in various academic programme courses.
Shaping career choices is by no means an easy task because the future is ever-changing.
Fears over whether the students have made the right choices tear apart the ambitions of the student while at the university. As the struggle continues, the student continues fighting the inner self while seeking to please the parties involved in his/her life. The challenge continues until the most difficult moment; the exam result of the first semester or first year. Only those who are aggressive survive.
Universities release exam results after one academic year, but it is important to give the students a provisional pass or fail of first semester exams, especially to the First Years who are internally fighting to listen to these different career choice voices.
These results will help them to reconsider their position academically.
If the above is not done, the students will find themselves having either supplementary exams or a repeat year or discontinuation from the university on academic grounds.
The challenge comes when the child is either repeating or is discontinued from the university on academic grounds.
Unfortunately, many parents and guardians are ignorant of this possibility.
How to disclose this reality to parents, relatives, neighbours and friends becomes a nightmare to the student.
This is when the few who are courageous enough camp at the Dean of Student’s office to either meet the dean or the students counsellor for help.
The rest will seclude themselves, never to share with their parents and friends due to the guilt and shame that comes with a repeated year or discontinuation.
That is why we, as the deans of students associations, appreciate and support the move the Ministry of Education has taken as a remedy to this problem.
The ministry has given a directive to all universities and tertiary institutions to set up Career Services Offices by the end of 2018.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed also unveiled a handbook that will guide universities, technical and vocational education institutions to operationalise these offices.
I appeal to all stakeholders to support this move to assist our youth in time.
Similarly, parents are advised to sit with their youngsters, get their views and build concurrence on their career choices instead of forcing their children to take a course that the child is not interested in.
While some universities already have career offices, it is now necessary for all the universities to embrace the directive by the CS and establish, equip and operationalise the Career Services Office.
This should be a priority because our current crop of students are directly from high school, where there are strict rules, and they find themselves crossing over to the university life where they are treated like adults with some degree of freedom.
Because of this, their ability to comprehend, adjust and adopt to the new environment and challenges by using the appropriate and acceptable coping mechanisms are compromised, hence the opportunity of applying some unacceptable, unethical means of dealing with the problem of choice when it presents itself.
These may include but are not limited to getting into drugs, recruitment into violent extremist groups, suicidal tendencies and other vices.
Adan is the Dean of Students, Karatina University, and chairman of the Kenya Universities Deans of Students (KUDSA). [email protected]