Once the compulsory education stage is over, young people face the complex challenge of deciding what their academic and professional future will be from then on. It is one of those decisions that mark a before and after in life. In most cases, it is the first time that something so decisive falls on our shoulders.
We began to pay attention to the information in the media about the most demanded careers, the best paid professional training studies, the graduate profile with the greatest opportunities for job placement , etc. A multitude of data that overwhelms anyone, especially when they can have such a strong impact on a person’s life.
The decision is complicated because during adolescence, when most people are in a position to make it, self-concept is still developing, exploring interests, goals, values… How then to opt for studies aligned with one’s own perceptions or personal and professional aspirations?
What is, for example, the influence of friends, at a stage in which their opinion and group pressure are decisive? And what about the family, especially fathers and mothers? Parental expectations or past experiences may come to take precedence over the true aspirations and capabilities of the person concerned.
In this context, there are two very necessary personal tools: self-efficacy and confidence. Greater confidence in one’s own abilities and ability to succeed stand in favor of making the right decision.
Can you help from outside?
It is inevitable that fathers and mothers feel concerned at this stage, since they are aware of the importance of the decision on non-compulsory studies. They may even know or have had negative experiences with a bad decision. Nor are they strangers to the information bombardment of the media.
If we turn on the television or open the daily newspaper we find, close to the date of the EBAU , alarming headlines such as dropout rates from higher education in Spain. According to the report of the Ministry of Universities prepared in 2020, the dropout rate was higher than 22.6% in the 2018–19 academic year: 1 in 5 students abandoned their studies without completing them.
The social and family environment must respect the rhythms of development of young people, supporting their growth and well-being, and providing support based on respect for their preferences. This is possible if they recognize their diversity, practice active listening while being flexible in their expectations, and even encourage their autonomy and decision-making.
By type of institution, public universities have lower dropout rates than private ones or affiliated centers. Although the percentage has decreased, it is still significant.
We found various abandonment factors. One of the main ones is the lack of motivation of the students or even a mismatch between personal expectations and the studies chosen. We cannot ignore that economic problems can also lead to such abandonment.
Understanding the factors associated with this early educational dropout is important when making decisions. The most common are the loss of interest in starting studies without having clear professional goals, the academic difficulties that were not counted on (with the consequent situations of frustration and mental blockage) and the emotional problems that are not adequately managed that diminish our capacity. to stay focused on studies.
Therefore, we can seek and receive support from our close environment in the following areas:
- Emotional Support. Faced with the uncertainty, anxiety or stress of this moment, the family can offer tools to manage worries and provide resources to keep a positive mind in the process. Like, for example, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing positive self-talk, developing a sense of humor, etc.
- World exploration. Let’s investigate our options and look for information on employment niches, testimonials from professionals who have traveled the same path, advice from mentors in a certain area according to the preferences of the students.
- Vocational orientation. Essential at this stage, it helps us delve into our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We must explore our interests, values, even what we are good at (skills), to find related career options.
- Educational fairs. It is important to have the opportunity to visit the different educational institutions that may be within your reach, to know in depth the study plans, access requirements, study financing, etc.
Author Bio: Dr. María Auxiliadora Ordoñez Jiménez is a Professor – Researcher at the International University of Valencia