How to Reach the Top

Manila Bulletin, November 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

How to Reach the Top


One of the most important concerns of parents who have children of school-going age is help them to choose a post-secondary educational program that will enable them to reach the top of their respective professions or occupations in the next 20 or more years. This task has become more complex as the Philippine basic educational system moves to the K + 12 curriculum in which the last two years of senior high school will incorporate many of the subjects in general education that used to be taught in the first two years of college in most university programs. Let me share with these parents the views expressed by Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history at Harvard University who serves on the National Commission on the Humanities and Social Science created in 2011 at the request of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the US during a time of great economic uncertainty and insecurity. The conclusions of Dr. Gordon Reed should be seriously considered by parents and educators, considering the fact that the US has had the K + 12 system for many decades. American high school graduates have been entering college at the age of 18 or more years. The current thinking of parents and students in the US has been captured by Dr. Gordon Reed in the following words: "Parents and students who have invested heavily in higher education fret about graduates' job prospects as technological advances and changes in domestic and global markets transform professions in ways that reduce wages and cut jobs. Under these circumstances, it is natural to look for what may appear to be the most 'practical' way out of the problem: 'Major in a subject designed to get you a job' seems the obvious answer to some, though this ignores the fact that many disciplines in the humanities characterized as 'soft' often, in fact, lead to employment and success in the long run." From my contact with numerous parents who ask advice about their children's future career path, I get the impression that they have similar attitudes towards the post-secondary courses that their children should pursue: take a course that will land you a job as quickly as possible after your university studies. Getting a job is without doubt an important goal of parents and students. It should, however, not be the overriding consideration in choosing a university and a course. As Dr. Gordon Reed pointed out, employers everywhere have expressed a preference for students who have received a broadly based education that has taught them to write well, think critically, research creatively, and communicate easily. In fact, the Dean of the School of Education of the University of Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Celerino Tiongco, who obtained his Ph.D. in Education at the prestigious Teachers College of Columbia University in New York, interviewed top employers in the Philippines and arrived at the same conclusion: Employers prefer to hire graduates with a strong liberal arts foundation for positions that will eventually lead to top management positions. Those who take up courses that are too narrow in scope and specialization may get a job easily but they tend to stagnate at low levels of employment for the rest of their career unless they take up more courses that will widen their perspectives and enhance their analytical and communication skills. …

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