School Leavers Face Tough Study Choices

This combined photo shows Pov Daro (L), a Grade A student of Chea Sim Samaky High School and Sok Channmony (R), a Grade B student of Miky Way school. Photo provided

PHNOM PENH – Graduating high school students have spoken about the pressure they feel under when deciding on a university and a major.

Thet Cheaye, a student of 7 January High School in Siem Reap province, was one who was uncertain. Although she got A and scholarship in computer science, she still likes the idea of being a doctor.

“My mind is not clear, it changes when I listen to people's advice because I love many skills,” she said.

Cheaye said it was not easy to find passion. It needs time to understand it, day-by-day, by joining many activities. Sometimes she wants to be a doctor, sometime work in computer science and sometime wants to continue higher education abroad.  

She used to volunteer in community events as part of a media team. She thought she was good at media such as camera, design and IT activities so she tried to apply for an IT scholarship.

She won the computer science scholarship, but with her dentist uncle’s encouragement she changed to apply to the  University of Health Science due to another passion.

“I don’t know how to choose, I am very complicated,” she said.

Another student, aged 18, said she dreams about being a doctor because it can save millions of lives and get respect and honor for her family. Especially, she can treat poor people when they need help.

When she was young, she had dengue fever and her family brought to Kantha Bopha hospital. Without the doctor, she would not have survived.  She had seen many children when she went for treatment in that hospital.

“I was bleeding from my nose when I had a high fever. My mother became desperate. Without Doctor Kantha Bopha, I would probably be dead and that's why I love doctors because it can save many lives,” she said.

Pov Daro, another grade A student in Chea Sim Samaky High School, said he too  was uncertain what he would do but liked the idea of studying engineering in the Institute of Technology of Cambodia.

Daro won a full scholarship in agricultural engineering​ in the University of Agriculture but would prefer to work in engineering.

“I am not sure about giving up the agricultural scholarship and having to study more to pass the entrance exam for a successful Institute of Technology of Cambodia school, but I will do my best,” he said.

When Daro was a child, he wanted to be both a teacher and a doctor but when he heard about seniority and self-discovery, he chose engineering because he was good at science.

To find his passion, Daro said students should get involved not only in class activities but extra curriculum activities such as debating competitions, business competitions, community volunteering and workshops because these will contribute and reflect what is his strengths and weaknesses so that he can choose the right major.

“Students should not only focus on the national exam but look for a long vision to sharpen our skills to apply for scholarships in the school and major we love,” Daro said.

Sok Channmony, a grade B student of Milky Way School, said that after finishing grade 12 she had already set her goal but there were many schools and it was hard to find the best one. She hadnot won scholarships for some schools she wants.

Channmony says she spent a lot of time understanding her life weakness and strengths and listening to teachers and her parents. Finally, she chose majoring in international relations.

“It is difficult to find scholarships because some schools do not offer them, while some schools need more competition and take longer,” Channmony said.

Despite attending a private school and getting B, she still faces many challenges seeking a scholarship. Students from rural areas did not know how to choose major or school and set their goals, which is their biggest challenge.  

Channmony suggests the Ministry of Education and teachers provide more scholarship opportunities and advise rural area students on choosing a major to fit the future market.

“I want to work to make income to support my life and study but I really don’t know where I could work. It would be great to have and education institute or team to discuss it with.”

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