Tag Archives: academia

Managing Change and Transition from an Academic Career Counselling Perspective

Posted by: Stephanie Burley on July 15, 2015 2:12 pm

Change is inescapable in life. It follows us wherever we go, and at each stage of our lives. Some of us are better suited to manage change than others, and some even thrive in times of transition. But for others, change can be a source of anxiety, stress, and discomfort. Sometimes we see change coming, and can brace ourselves for the fall out, or prepare ourselves so things can transition more smoothly. Other times it is unexpected or thrust upon us with little to no warning, and can leave us completely lost and disoriented.

startup-594091_640Students, no matter their level of study – whether they be undergraduates or post-docs – are under a great deal of stress and pressure. How can I as a career counsellor provide support and strategies to these students to help them manage the multitude of changes that will be thrown at them throughout their academic lives and beyond?

With the academic labour market such that it is right now, I am seeing an influx of clients who are transitioning out of careers quite unexpectedly. Many of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows that arrive in my office, started out on their academic path with a certain goal in mind. They were going to be professors. They would contribute to an existing body of research and literature on their topic of specialization, and they would mentor, coach and teach junior academics to follow in their footsteps. The Canadian academic labour market has become increasingly saturated with PhD qualified academics, but vacancies for tenure track positions are becoming scarce. There are a slew of reasons as to why this is happening, and sometimes I will share these with the student, but that’s not really of importance at this stage. Providing an explanation as to why the labour market is how it is doesn’t do much to ameliorate the situation for the individual faced with abruptly changing the course of their career and life trajectory. Instead, I focus my energy on the individual in front of me, and the situation they are experiencing. How can I support this individual to cope with this transition, and develop skills that will hopefully allow them to navigate future transitions? Often I incorporate into my counselling practice the 4 S’s of Transition Theory as discussed by Goodman, Schlossberg and Anderson from their work titled “Counseling Adults in Transition (2006). I use this model to help guide the questions I ask and the direction that our conversation takes. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Accepting Academic Mediocracy

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on November 22, 2013 4:31 pm

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
~ Henry Ford


Why has society lowered the ceiling of academic success?  Why have our standards been lowered to ensure the graduation rate of our children?  Are we not dumbing down our society if we lower our academic standards?  Are we not developing a society of mediocracy?  It is mediocracy that encourages a moderate and poor quality of performance. Are we not creating a society that just gets by with good enough.  Good enough is unacceptable.

In many aspects of our society, we no longer encourage children to dream, to thrive, and to achieve; rather we have become a society of mediocracy and complacency.  Furthermore, we rarely seek to inspire, to encourage, to positively influence, or to spark an internal flame.  We have become a society that has given up; accepting the notion that “mediocracy” is acceptable.  I have yet to meet a high achiever who has allowed mediocracy to be an acceptable standard for his/her life.



“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
~ Napoleon Hill

In the past, having served as a political strategist in Canada, and as a political aide to a representative in the United States; allowed me to peek my eyes through the window of politics.  It was through this window that I began to recognize how very interconnected the political machine was on the academic world.  It has been through my work in politics, that I have had an unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of political evolution of academia.  I would never have dreamt that the political climate of our day, would make acceptable any standard short of being our best.  Many years ago, the United States Army ran an ad that emphasized an ideological approach to “be all that you can be.”  Are we encouraging children of this generation to be all that they can be?  Or, are we encouraging children of this upcoming generation to simply be comfortable with a passing grade?

Rarely, do we consider the significance of our political system on the academic environment; but remember it is the political machine that funds the academic environment.  If our funding is derived from the political machine, then is not the political beast responsible for our academic endeavors?  Sadly, we give more thought to the latest stadium being erected than we do our children’s academic futures.  Likewise, as a society, we seek to avoid pointing fingers in the direction of our politicians, because this would make those in charge of our taxes and funding responsible for the decay of the minds of our children.   Now understand, I am not saying that the political beast is solely responsible for the demise of the academic environment, but I am saying that it is one cog in the wheel of decay.  Nevertheless, if you are going to bring light to a dark environment, you must choose to shine the light on the environment you are in.  Yet, we cannot forget that parents, teachers and the community at large are equally responsible for ensuring the success of our students.  Raising a child is not a solo act; rather it does take a village to raise a child.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA