How not to follow the money, but your heart, when you choose a major?

How to decide not to choose a major for money in Malaysia

The main criteria of going to college are primarily to learn a useful skill set and obtain a degree- two very important things that will open up so many opportunities and increase your earning potential. That may be very satisfying to know but is a crucial part of any student life. Let me repeat – VERY CRUCIAL. Because, is it just about the money, all in all?


The reality of a typical Malaysian family – pressure full on!

Like many college students in Malaysia, I’ve had my fair share of problems while choosing a major. Being brought up in a conservative Chinese family, my possible career options ranged from becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, a dentist or a teacher.  On behalf of every Asian kid out there, I somehow felt like a rebel paving the waves. All in all, I acted in a compliant manner, and obediently opted to follow the stereotype and study the subjects that would result in a big paycheck and parental bragging rights.

The trend of Asian kids choosing  STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career is a big national scope. The problem of choosing these majors for a big fat paycheck is the standard in every Asian household. But is it worth it to follow your parents’ expectations, and not your passion?


How perfect can you be?

When asked on the issue, a graduate student from KDU said, ” I think Malaysian parents put a lot of expectations on their kids. They put an immense of pressure on them to obtain a job that makes more money, create a perfect family, better lifestyle…it’s really suffocating.” This opinion was shared by a majority of respondents, another student shared her opinion of college being “more of an investment than a time of academic and personal exploration, it feels more like an obligation to put aside our own preferences out of respect for our parents.”

… and here’s my story:

As for me, after receiving my SPM certificate with flying colours, I knew the debates and social agreements are going to come right after the happy cries and celebrations. I sat down with my parents countless times and it was daunting, to say the least. I received so many bits of advice and went to so many career talks for many months up until the point where I felt like I might lose myself. I was on the verge of not believing if I can make it out alive until I watched Jim Carrey’s full Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation.

It was the epiphany of my life as it literally changed me.  I now have a totally different perspective on my ultimate goals in life, and life in general. Sure, the paycheck is mayhem and great but would you prefer to get by every single day with agony or just do something that you love.

Now, thinking about my future motivates me to go beyond my countless assignments and seek new experiences in my field. When I look at an assignment that I hate, I make a warm cup of tea, grab my cosy sweater and get ready to work, because I know where I want to be.

My only hope is for schools to opened up more windows for students than just leading an average big paycheck kind of life.

So What are you waiting for?  Take the leap!