How to Guide Teenagers Who Don't Know What to Study

When guiding adolescents who don't know what to study, we must be aware of our biases and beliefs. Keep reading to learn more.
How to Guide Teenagers Who Don't Know What to Study
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 07 July, 2023

Throughout our lives, we make different decisions. Perhaps one of the most important is the choice of which career to pursue. In most cases, for young people, it’s almost like the first decision on that step into the adult world. However, it’s not a simple matter: Among their own doubts and emotions, there’s also a great social influence. Let’s see how to guide teenagers who don’t know what to study.

Follow these tips to guide teenagers who don’t know what to study

Here are some practical recommendations to guide teenagers who don’t know what to study.

Consult a professional

Sometimes, educational guidance, from a more comprehensive approach, can serve as a tool for young people to think about different options.

Create space for dialogue with broad questions

Together with the adolescent, we can think about the things they liked to do as a child, the activities they enjoy in their free time, or the topics of conversation that catch their attention. Many times, their field of interest is limited by school orientation and they end up choosing traditional disciplines because they’re unaware of the wide universe that exists.

Invite them to participate in projects and activities

Many schools often organize open days to publicize their academic options. In turn, there are institutes that have projects where, more than content, they seek to teach specific skills, such as planning or time management, among others.

A teenager talking to another adult about her plans for the future.
By talking to other students or professionals, the teenager will be able to have information about how what’s studied in theory translates into practice.

In addition to the course syllabus, it’s a good idea for the teenager to talk to someone who’s already familiar with the subject. For example, a student who’s further along in their studies or an active professional.

Suggest that they seek information from a variety of sources

It’s good for the young person to use official or formal sources -such as the Institute or the University- to have concrete options and a clearer idea. However, they can also be guided by more informal searches, such as accessing blogs and opinion forums.

Address the stereotypes associated with certain professions

It’s very common to think that girls and women perform better in the so-called “soft disciplines”, while mathematics or engineering are usually reserved for men. Undoubtedly, this has an impact on the way men and women see themselves as capable of performing in certain professional fields.

Tell them about your experience

Talking about what happened to us at that age helps us to work on emotions and empathize with adolescents. In this way, the young person will be able to connect with what they feel and find ideas and solutions, as well as ideas about their concerns.

You may be interested in: My Child Doesn’t Want to Go to College

A teenager looking boredly at a laptop screen.
Many young people seek shorter training programs to explore what they like and then opt for specializations.

Choosing in the current context

This recommendation deserves a special section, as we often lose sight of the fact that the context conditions our choices. A few years ago, the scenario was different. For example, family traditions were followed, academic options were more limited, thinking that a 4 or 5-year career wasn’t a conflict and the presence in the classroom was a fact.

Today, all that has changed. Now, teenagers think about traveling and working from anywhere in the world. It’s important to take into account this change in the global scenario. In addition, when guiding young people, they should also be encouraged to think about whether they’d like to have an experience in another country, among other things.

Finally, salary shouldn’t be left aside either, as it also impacts other future plans and projects we may have. In this regard, we must also help them to think in terms of competitiveness.

You may be interested in: Help Your Children Choose Their College Major

Instill calm regarding decision-making

A common denominator that must be present is tranquility. That is, we must accompany young people to make decisions with awareness and reflection and to take time to connect with their purpose. However, we must also share with them that, even when we’re convinced of something, there may be unexpected scenarios and things may not be as we imagined.

The emotional aspect has a very important role in decision-making. In this regard, we must soften any ideas about failure. If they choose what they want to study and then don’t like it, they won’t have failed if they abandon it. On the contrary, it should be valued as an instance of learning and self-knowledge.

Finally, when guiding adolescents, we must think about the beliefs and prejudices from which we speak. In doing so, we may discover that our advice is more oriented by our fears and even ignorance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Garduño, J. M. E. G. (2010). Los determinantes de la elección vocacional de una semiprofesión. Un estudio de estudiantes de primer ingreso a la carrera de profesor de educación primaria. Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Educativos (México)40(1), 95-110.
  • Cantillo, A. E. C., & Rojas, J. A. N. (2005). Procesos y procedimientos de orientación vocacional/profesional/laboral desde una perspectiva sistémica. Hallazgos, (4), 144-165.
  • Borrachero Cortés, A. B., Dávila Acedo, M. A., & Airado Rodríguez, D. (2017). LA INFLUENCIA DE LAS EMOCIONES EN LA ELECCIÓN DE CARRERAS UNIVERSITARIAS. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, 2(1),125-136.[fecha de Consulta 31 de Enero de 2023]. ISSN: 0214-9877. Recuperado de:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.