It used to be so simple. If you wanted to be a doctor, you take medicine. If you wanted to be a businessman, you take management. If you wanted to be a teacher, you take education.

Today, there is a course for seemingly every whim and inclination.

During our time, it was just Commerce. Today, you have Business Management, Advertising Management, Legal Management, Marketing Management, and Management of Financial Institutions. Whew!

This makes it difficult for a child to pick a college program that would influence the course of his future. Faced with the same situation, I think that I’d have a hard time picking one myself.

That’s why I always ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up. However subtly, I encourage them to envision what their lives could be like in the future. For so long, my boys wanted to become doctors. After a time, they wanted to become pilots. Now, Nicolo wants to write and cook all the time. Because I’m an entrepreneur, I hope he’d consider becoming an entrepreneur someday. I’m thinking that maybe he can study to be a chef, open up a restaurant, and then write for magazines and make cookbooks.

Paolo wants to work with computers. Darla, my 11-year-old daughter, wants to draw all the time. Well then, I said that maybe she can study fine arts, fashion, or architecture? Meg, my eight-year-old, wants to jump up and down all the time. I told her, “Are you sure you want to do that eight hours a day, five days a week?

Picking his course in college is one of the most important decisions that your child is going to make. Of course, you don’t want to make this decision for him, but you don’t have to let him do this on his own.

Don’t just tell him: “Take whatever you want.” Instead, sit down with him and help him make this decision in a logical way. Ask him to make a list of the 10 courses that interest him, and then ask him to narrow it down to six, and then after further thinking, into 4 choices.

Now, analyze these four choices, writing down the pros and the cons of each course on paper. It is best for you and your child to consider everything—from his strengths and interests to the length of time he’ll have to study and how much the program would cost.

Encourage your child to be truthful when he does his analysis. If he wants to take an engineering course, for example, but never did well in math, then maybe it’s best that he steer clear from that course.  Ask him what he wants to do after graduation rather than what course he wants to take now. This is the better way of going about things.

Because I know how much of a dilemma this is for you and your kids, we came out with “Planning Ahead: A Guide to Metro Manila’s Finest Colleges and Universities” a few years ago. Available in National Bookstore, it’s a comprehensive guide book that profiles such top universities as the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Mapua Institute of Technology, Miriam College, St. Scholastica’s College, University of the Philippines, and University of Santo Tomas. The book not only gives a particular university’s admission requirements, it also lists down all the programs available along with their descriptions. I hope that this book can help you and your child come up with the proper course for his future.

Good luck!