Upon interrogation, most students here seem to choose their major because their family suggested it. On the one hand, this is great because there is an active family support system in this society. Youth are able to go to their family for advice on major life decisions, and aren’t expected to make such huge choices alone. Compare this to the US, where fresh high school graduates often look at the majors offered by universities and are more lost than before.
On the other hand, it’s not really youth asking parents’ advice … rather, doing something pre-approved by parents is virtually the only option. Plus, parents are the ones paying for the education, so they want to make sure it’s a wise investment.
Not surprisingly, most parents are not career-decision experts, but they do send their children to study the usual reliable subjects: engineering, accounting, and finance to name a few. In the Arab World, engineers and doctors are highly respected, to the point that, as one of my friends said, “if you’re not a doctor or an engineer, then you’re nothing”.
Here, more students are interested in getting a graduate degree than my classmates in the states, and a college education is extremely desirable. In fact, for many students it’s the only possibility. A university education is required to get a good job, plus it reinforces social class. As one friend put it, everyone here goes to college, “unless they already know they’re not going to do anything with their lives”.