Career counseling: It is time to break taboos

The government to invest in competition for scholarships by investing in counseling rather than offering scholarships to a few students

In Pakistan people usually take a lifetime to figure out what they actually want to do in life. Often students choose careers based on others’ preferences, be it their peers, parents, media or trends.

Majority of our students who are given free hand to decide their future take no less than an intermediate degree and sometimes bachelor’s degree to find out about their dream profession. And those who are instructed to follow the goals set out by their parents are a separate story.

Numerous studies show that there are millions of people across the globe whose college degree and career choices don’t match. They end up doing a job that is irrelevant to their 12-16 years of education, resulting in lack of productivity and lesser profits. This does not only halt an organisation’s growth but also has disastrous results on a person’s life leading to depression and job burnouts.

To counter this phenomenon, the world is hiring services of career counselors. Counseling is a confidential and collaborative process in which a career counselor assists students in their educational and career decision-making. Fortunately, it is not an alien term for us Pakistanis. But there are only a handful of schools, colleges and universities that have facilitated their students with counseling services.

Usually an institute hires services of one or two counselors and burdens them with additional responsibilities to cut their expenses. As a result they are unable to guide a student properly according to his/her interest and ability. Moreover, they are not trained enough to guide a student accurately. Meanwhile, institutions, in the name of value added services, charge extra money from families.

Dignosco’s CEO Ata Rahman said, “We are in the phase of establishing counseling systems in our schools, an excuse always iterated by private schools. However, there are only part-time facilities available.” In a nutshell, there are no full-time counselors available in Pakistan in any institution. This has resulted in a confused generation unable to survive competitive work landscape.

Around 900 agents from universities across Pakistan participate in an education expo conducted in a big city. Still the number of students who go abroad for higher studies from Pakistan is much lower than neighbouring countries. Annually only 5,000 Pakistanis go to the United States, while from India alone around 125,000 people go to study there. The number of students securing admission is even lower

 “Education is subjective/relative thing. Every year we miss 12,000 scholarships coming from Germany simply because nobody knows about them. We streamline such opportunities. That’s what counseling does. It helps in using existing resources,” said Ata. 

For the last few years many Pakistani students have been able to secure their first choice College/University with the expertise of suitable counseling.

 “We need to institutionalise counseling mechanism and Government should come up with regulations. Turkey and Malaysia do not offer scholarships. Our education is better than them. The chief minister of Punjab is only taking students to Turkey/Malaysia. What’s the point of it?” questioned Ata.

He further suggested the government to invest in competition for scholarships by investing in counseling rather than offering scholarships to a few students. The counseling sessions should ideally start at the age of 14, and provided college road map facility for two years and graduation students for 6-9 months. Our students should be motivated to break the taboos and get consultation from experts for that services of a good counselor should be provided to help him avail scholarships and other opportunities.

Nida Tahseen

Nida Tahseen frequently writes on politics, social issues and fashion for The Nation. She is an alumna of International Center of Journalists (ICFJ), a media consultant and social media strategist. Travel buff. Food enthusiast. She can be reached at

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