Asian Adolescents Career Insights Education Essay

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This essay pertains to Asian adolescents' career development; specifically it pointed out issues and challenges among adolescents aspiring to finish a college degree. Social constructivism and Emic approaches were taken into consideration as lenses to magnify culture specific issues of career development and education among Asian adolescents. A qualitative method was used by the author to capture the lived career development and education experiences of adolescents. A modified consensual qualitative method was employed to analyze the narratives of 10 Filipinos, 10 Chinese-Filipinos and 10 Korean Adolescents enrolled in a University. A questionnaire was used to explicate themes as guided by the frameworks of Super (1963) and Savickas (2005). The study cited culture, family influence, values, perceived success and role models as important factors in choosing course/ program and developing career plans in the future.

Adolescents are expected to decide what course to take after their secondary schooling. Career decision making is a crucial task among adolescents as it is become part of their personal adjustment and self-identity. A Career is like a recurrent dream, it is always in progress, until finally this dream becomes so vivid and real. It is nice to observe how children role play and then someday witness as they become a professor of a well-known university or watch a child play with stones and then see the same child become an engineer of high-rise buildings. Parents are eager to see their children as successful individuals, while teachers are very much fulfilled to see them thrive in their chosen professions.

In western countries, career education programs are introduced even in post primary and secondary levels. In fact, Wood in 1990 prepared career programs for 9th graders which composed of completion of career surveys, interpretation, and career research for future interests, and planning. 10th graders on the other hand learn about life planning, and learn family influences, parental involvement, as well as life timelines. 11th graders take pre-college tests such as the SAT (scholastic aptitude tests) to determine further educational and career goals. Students are also exposed to personality and values assessment, and do firsthand observations of work and part-time jobs to get acquainted with their future career plans. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, once results of the SATs are released to the students, there is no individual interpretation of the results and some schools even mishandled the data by flaunting the scores on huge tarpaulins as if the students had topped a board exam.

I have observed that educational and marketing offices of most colleges and universities in the Philippines allocate funds to promote their programs and institutions. Senior high schools students attended career seminars prepared by their school counselors. Speakers are alumni/ae of their schools who usually speak of their college experiences, success, and hardships. Marketing personnel, admission officers are sent to every secondary schools to promote their programs. Students are bombarded with animated media presentations, colorful pamphlets, and a handful of application forms, freebies are even given. Despite these enthusiastic efforts on the part of these colleges and universities, high school students are impressed but still not well educated. According to Salazar-Clemena (2002) career-related education problems among Filipino adolescents remains largely unchanged since various career related programs both in the educational and industrial institutions were implemented, problems which are categorized as sociological (unwise choice of course), psychological (low self-worth), and general (lack of abilities and skills).

The problem lies with too much commercialism of the program. This essay will not focus on the idea of positive and negative views on educational entrepreneurship, but rather magnifying colleges and universities' faulty introduction of college education to students. San Diego's study mentioned that instead of contributing to the career indecisions of the students, we should look into factors on how we should understand and help our high school graduates clarify their goals and come up with a tentative personal career plan. In the said study, he mentioned that we can help a teenager by identifying certain key factors that contributes to their experiences of career decision making.

San Diego studied students enrolled in his personality effectiveness 2 classes. He distributed questionnaires to a group of Filipinos, Chinese-Filipinos, and Korean students. The questionnaire contain 30 question and items that deals with reasons what made the respondents chose their course, the nature of their course/program, the steps they took in deciding what course to take, the influence of significant others, and other factors that affects their experiences in decision making. There were 10 Filipinos, 10 Chinese-Filipinos, and 10 Korean students returned questionnaires promptly. Each respondent was chosen based on their blood line and race, and age bracket, which is from 18 to 21 years old; all respondents were full time students in a university.

What course to take?

San Diego analyzed the themes that emerged from the career narratives of Asian adolescents. The results showed that the primary reason why they enrolled in a course/program is basically their perceived mastery of a certain skills, their academic self efficacy and professional role related interests. A female Korean student enrolled in BS educational psychology program mentioned that "the course is more on research and counseling skills" and that since childhood she has inclinations to helping her friends and being investigative makes her like the research part of the program. A Filipino student enrolled in BS Electronics and Communications Engineering wrote in his paper that "enjoying mathematics and his interest in electronics and making both theory and application be integrated to design a complex gadget" is really a delight for him. Germeijs and De Boeck (2003) suggested that students should have enough information about the alternatives and outcomes of their career choices to prevent career indecisions.

On parents' advice

San Diego identified that Asian adolescents respected their parents as authority figure and always seek advice from family members about career information. It shows the Asian collectivistic influence even in choosing what course/program to take in college. This behavior is perceived as negative in Western countries and could be a sign of dependency (Mau, 2000). A female Korean student enrolled in an education course acknowledges that parents influenced them what program to choose. It was also how their parents show concern and to avoid experience of work difficulties in the future. In the Chinese-Filipino families an adolescent should show obedience to cultivate close family ties. In situation where the adolescent needs to choose what to enroll, a Chinese-Filipina student mentioned that "I asked my parents and elder siblings for advice and I also consider what career opportunities my course could lead me after college… I am hoping to get a high position in our family business". In cases where an adolescent does not like the option given by their parents they ended with choosing what they think is good for them. "My parents would have wanted me to take a different course…. I deal with my parents' expectations by doing well in class and show them my high grades and try not to fail in any subject. My parents believed that I could not make it to that course that I have chosen but one way or the other I will prove them wrong" by a Chinese-Filipino student taking legal management and soon wants to purse a law degree.

San Diego noted that among groups, Filipino students identified their parents as collaborative and giving them enough freedom to choose what course they want. Based on the narratives, Filipino parents are perceived as less authoritative compared to Chinese-Filipino parents. A Filipino student taking Industrial Management Engineering is thankful "before. I was greatly undecided for my future, I didn't know what the right course is for me, my father is a civil engineer, and he helped me in researching and gathering career information and weighed my options..." San Diego explained that parents are important as well as critical factor in providing support, and information to adolescents in transition, such as in finding and choosing career/program. According to Schultheisset (2001) that positive parental behaviors promotes adolescent's positive attitude towards career development. Parents who are encouraging and helping in the process of identifying their adolescent's career choices promote motivation for career preparation (Phillips, 2002).

Being self-critical and why not?

San Diego compared themes emerged among three groups and identified those Chinese-Filipino respondents as more self-critical as compared to Filipino and Korean student-respondents. Although San Diego noted that across groups all have narratives of self-criticisms. This concept of self-criticism is linked with their own subjective sense of preparedness after college graduation and their willingness to be readily immersed in the work life. Kitayama, Markus, Matsumoto, and Norasakkunkit (1997) argued that Asians who critically evaluate themselves may have positive social and psychological consequences and this could be rooted from the Asian collectivistic culture. While in the study of Mau (2000) collectivistic culture may inhibit the development of individual's sense of self-efficacy. San Diego looks into the narratives of Chinese-Filipino and found several self- criticism themes. Students who seem to have low self-esteem tend to have narratives of self-criticisms as well, that lead to self-loathing. A Chinese-Filipino student remarked that "The problem is the urge not to study and just bum, and don't have the feel to learn more than what is required of me" "I am not ready to take full responsibilities and make decisions for myself… I still need more time".

Fantasy to specifics

San Diego noted themes from the narratives such as career fantasy turning into career specifics. In fact, this theme explained the adolescents' pre-crystallization phase of career development as pointed out by Super. Advertising major mentioned "My childhood dreams was influenced by the toys that I played and from the movies that I watched. I was amazed with pilots. As of now my career dreams was influenced by my professor, Doc. Nards, who is a successful advertiser and worked with the top advertisers in our country". Play activities and related interests, and media (TV, Radio, and Print) are noted by San Diego as preliminary activities where teens may explore their career options. It is in the formal college education where adolescents gain exposure and reflect on their future career aspirations. It is evident where most respondents made mention that a professor, a high school teacher, a professional, or even a parent influenced them to pursue a more professional image. Lent, Brown, and Hackett (1996) clarified that adolescents' career identity is a process whereby an individual learns from observing behaviors from significant role models, not only that, because Super (1980) gave importance to the social processes involved in career development.

The way to success

In the study, San Diego noted how respondents gave meaning to career success. Each group of teenagers provided their own perspectives of what it means to gain career success. San Diego carefully analyzed success meaning among respondents. It was noted that success was instilled by their parents as an achievement from hard work and perseverance and giving importance to career. It was evident by how respondents identified their success meaning units: "A successful person has an undeniable work ethics and unquestionable job enthusiasm" "I admire a successful person's positive mind the most. I think it is going to be helpful both in my career and my personal life because it eases the way I see the world" "They are very good in grabbing chances, being not afraid that they might fail". Success as noted by San Diego was injected from external factors but is assimilated by Asian adolescents while working with their career goals. Mau (2000) explained that Asian students may attribute success to their best efforts as compared to American students who gives overemphasis to their talents and skills.

Values instilled

San Diego also looked into how the collectivist culture may affect their principles at work. Since the respondents are all at the middle phase of their studies prior to graduation, an item was used to identify what specific work values and factors might motivate them in the future. Comparing themes across groups, San Diego noted that Chinese-Filipino respondents give much emphasis to job status, financial gains, and family issues. A Chinese-Filipina wrote in her paper "I think that my family simply believes that whatever career or course we choose it must lead to high financial compensation and a career where we won't just become employees but employers". Filipino respondents on the other hand differs to some extent because it was noted that respondents would value work environment, job stability, developing passion, integrity at work, and smooth interpersonal relationships. A Filipino student taking accountancy mentioned that "I value most is self-fulfillment I would get in entering that career. For me, self-fulfillment is the most essential thing a person can have. Money is not that significant, but more of workplace, co-workers, and your integrity at work". Korean respondents value work achievement, high success rate, and family as primary focus in the future. The result gained by San Diego in Chinese-Filipino respondents was similar to what Leong (1991) mentioned that Asian American students placed greater emphasis on external factors such as financial gains, job status, prestige and job security values than their Caucasian counterparts.

Overall, the study of San Diego shed light into some factors to consider in assisting Asian adolescents' career decision making. Several key stakeholders may work effectively to answer the career needs of graduating high school students. For example, admission office and career counseling office of an educational institution may initiate programs to better communicate their course programs giving emphasis to what course program can offer. It means elaborating on skills, outputs, information and knowledge that can be acquired and what one needs to be proficient of. In addition to this, a college or university should help parents by giving them a career information session about what their adolescents are taking up, the primary jobs they most likely to take after graduation, and the capability of the program to be used in a variety of settings. Likewise, Salazar-Clemena (1997) suggested an alternative model of career counseling based on family values and perceptions (false ideas and expectations about economics status, and career decision making) thus leading to family career counseling.

There is always a trend that if a college student drop, or shift to another course they will pick a course which do not suits to their abilities, interests, needs, expectations, and efficacy. Others wait till they graduate and pursue a different profession of their choice. A university career counseling program may want to intensify their educational career interventions not only by giving students Job Expo but by actually handling cases of student's career indecisions from the very start student applies in the admissions office. Deal with root problems (e.g. self criticism, low academic self efficacy, low self esteem, parent wanting another course for the student, acculturative stress) rather than superficial factors of career indecisions in every shifting case.

On a personal level, career counselors may focus their attention on career resilience as early as possible. Waterman, Waterman and Collard (1996) described career resilience as an individual's ability to identify personal strengths and weaknesses, the capability to be value-driven, show enthusiasm for further learning, becoming future-oriented, ability to get well with others as well as becoming flexible. This can be done through a dialogue between counselors and educational administrators to infuse career planning and development across subjects taken.

Different reasons might emerge why adolescent perhaps may not be able to achieve their career goals. In various career-related surveys, a problem was pointed out by Salazar-Clemena (2002) that due to poverty and lack of financial means, parents opted to send their adolescents to low-quality colleges and universities and finished early so that they can help in family expenses and in helping their siblings to finish schooling. In San Diego's study, International students such as Koreans, Indonesians, Taiwanese and Chinese students was sent to nearby Asian countries such as the Philippines due to economic crises. Parents of international students choose to avail of cheaper education regardless of distance, culture and stress. In this regard, this should not be used as baits among fly-by-night educational institutions to promote their programs. In reality a lot of these tricks are pretentious and most are just promising a good future for student-applicants. A responsible educational institution should and must be honest and will not make business out of education. Their main responsibility is to become key facilitators to prospective students towards the fulfillment of their personal and professional goals and in the future let them reap their dreams as it become their most cherish reality.

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