Choosing the Right University Course to Study
By Michelle Mojisola Savage
As a student in a country with an ever-rising unemployment rate, choosing a course that would allow you to compete favourably in the labour market is especially important. However, such decisions are usually made by parents and guardians whose top choices are medicine, law, engineering, and accounting. Woe betides children who would rather study less popular courses like creative writing or archeology. If their parents do not dissuade them from such courses, the Nigerian economy, with its bleak prospects would.
The trans-generational focus on these top courses is a major concern in the Nigerian educational sector. For example, out of the 1.8 million candidates that applied for the 2022 UTME, the highest percentage chose medicine as their first choice of course. Over 367,000 applicants vied for admittance into medical schools that had vacancies for only 11.90% of the candidates. Law also received about 81,653 applications for 8,500 spots. Meanwhile, education courses with over 100,000 vacancies had only 53,000 applicants.
An interview across these top departments will reveal that many students chose the courses to satisfy their parents. You can be anything you want, they encourage, yet hammering their preferred courses in the children's heads from childhood. Considering the worsening state of Nigeria's economy, are parents protecting their children from future difficulties by restricting their choices?
Most parents want the best for their children, which is why they choose courses believed to give stability and a comfortable life. Often, the level of parental interference in picking a course depends on the economic status of the family. While children from more affluent homes are often encouraged to pursue hobbies and make independent choices, many times even, they are saddled with the pressure of maintaining family tradition and upholding legacies by picking these top courses. On the other hand, poor and middle-class parents would rather choose a course that they think would ensure financial success for their children. Such parents are less likely to support a course like Egyptology.
In the long term, these monopolistic views are not sustainable for a developing country where diversification remains the top solution to our economic woes. To facilitate Nigeria's transformation from an oil-reliant economy to a diversified one, it is imperative to encourage students to pursue their interests while exposing them to many options.
Sometimes, choosing the right course is difficult, but there are some questions and guidelines that can simplify the decision. Can you dedicate four to five years of your life studying the course and decades pursuing a career in it? What is its reputation and accreditation in your chosen university? What is the future of the course in the country? What is the global outlook of the course? Is it financially viable in your environment? If not, what are your options to make money while practicing in this field? Can the course be integrated into other disciplines? These vital questions can guide you to the right decision.
And if parents can assist their wards in considering these questions instead of forcing their choices on them, Nigeria can hope for a significant reduction in the unemployment rate, the economy would be more diversified, and society would be filled with more people who are satisfied with their jobs.
Michelle Mojisola Savage
is a writer and Engineering
student at the University of
Lagos. Her interests include
playing the guitar, strong
political arguments and
talking to dogs.