Unwilling to trade in high incomes for the fulfillment of teaching, many high school overachievers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have put aside some of the more promising college majors that offer a lucrative career to follow their hearts and train to become teachers.
For many high school seniors, including elites, teaching has now emerged as a top and only choice when it comes to selection of colleges for signing up and admission.
Several even turn down tempting offers from topnotch local universities and sometimes put aside objections from family to proudly make their way to education colleges in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
An elite student at Ho Chi Minh City-based Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted for three consecutive years, Ly Tran A Khuong signed up for the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology on his family’s advice.
“I just wanted to please my parents and it’s also a well-informed pick,” Khuong shared, adding he later switched his application to the city’s University of Education.
His decision came as a shock to his family after they learned that their son’s national high school exam result was good enough to land him a spot in the prestigious educational establishment of his original choice.
Khuong admitted being slightly shaken by what his parents described of the less promising prospects of becoming a teacher, including meager pay and heavy workload.
The 18-year-old back then, however, pressed on with his own choice.
Meanwhile, Vietnam National University (VNU)- Hanoi University of Education welcomed a batch of elite high school seniors including top scorers at the national high school exam and prize winners at national contests for its 2020-2021 academic year.
Among them are Duong Quynh Chau, Vu Thu Ngan and Tran Quang Do, who all landed or were offered a spot at reputable universities including Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Foreign Trade University, and members of Vietnam National University- Hanoi for their wins at national contests for outstanding students.
What these students share is the willingness to decline tempting offers in favor of training to become an instructor without having second thoughts about their choice.
For some, becoming a teacher is not a decision made overnight or only after some long and hard thinking.
It is a childhood dream and an inner call that these teenagers have nurtured well into adulthood.
Chau, a gifted student from the north-central province of Nghe An, 330 kilometers from Hanoi, dreamed of becoming a teacher since she was a seventh grader, while Do began visualizing himself as an instructor as early as fourth grade.
Unlike many other kids whose dreams of becoming teachers, doctors and engineers soon fade in adulthood, these freshmen make sure their childhood wishes become reality.
In contrast to Do, Ngan has no clear reasons for choosing teaching.
Impressed by dynamic journalists, she applied for journalism while also signing up for Korean studies out of her infatuation with K-drama.
Despite being the top scorer in D block including Maths, Literature and English in this year’s national high school exam -- a replacement of the previously adopted university entrance exam, which opens the door to highly coveted colleges, the girl ended up going for teaching instead.
In a similar vein, Dau Vinh Phuong Uyen, a literature senior at VNU- Hanoi University of Education, also a top scorer on a university entrance exam a few years ago, shared she registered for three majors at Foreign Trade University.
Impressed with the institution’s excellent reputation and its alumni’s promising job prospects, Uyen believed that a career in business would earn her a handsome income.
The girl, however, decided to give up the potentially promising career in favor of teaching, despite her concerns about the financial situation the job involves.
|Dau Vinh Phuong Uyen, a literature teaching senior at Vietnam National University - Hanoi University of Education, is positive she has made a sound career choice. Photo: Mai Thuong/ Tuoi Tre|
Money isn’t everything
According to Uyen, it is the lofty values which money cannot buy that have drawn her to the teaching profession.
Like many other young people, she wants to become a source of inspiration and influence just as her teachers and mentors were and witness the changes she will bring in her students.
It is Uyen’s father who connects her to the profession.
“As a retired teacher, my father is moved that many of his former students, now with their own successful careers, still pay him a visit on Vietnamese Teachers’ Day -- November 20th. They come back for him and share their fond memories,” Uyen revealed.
“I cannot find any other profession with such spiritual values,” she pondered.
“Money may not bring us happiness if we don’t fall for our job and forge no lifelong commitment with it,” Uyen concluded.
Uyen was lucky to have her father’s support all along.
The university senior revealed before she made up her mind, her father had gone to lengths to record lectures at the university where she is currently studying.
“He said, ‘this is the school where you should go.’ His advice further fueled my commitment, though I had already set my mind on teaching,” Uyen recalled.
Another similarity shared by Uyen, Ngan, Do, Chau and Khuong is they all owe favors to their dedicated, friendly teachers, who helped bring out the best in them and sided by them in some of their lowest moments.
They are all aware of the sacrifices today’s teachers have to make and the pressure increasingly mounted on them.
“Teachers are supposed to dress and talk decently. Their blunders, though minor, will not be easily tolerated,” Uyen shared what she has learned about teachers.
“I find children adorable and I think challenges will keep us motivated.”
Uyen added she wanted to change the role model of stern-looking teachers in the past into today’s friendly, helpful instructors whom students can trust and open up to.
The would-be teacher shared her elation when she received a greeting card on Vietnamese Teachers’ Day from parents of a student she tutored at home as early recognition of her efforts.
“Everything remains good. So far, I can say I’ve made the right decision,” Khuong confirmed, his review was echoed by the other fellow teaching majors.