While many students would hate to admit it, their parents often play a key role in their post-secondary decision-making. They often finance the education, may have expectations based on their own experiences, or simply be there to support their child during a stressful decision-making process. After all, choosing a university is often the first major decision which has a long term impact on her or his life’s journey. When I counsel students making their decisions, I try to ensure that the parents are included in the process in a supportive role. In order to do so, I spend a great deal of time dispelling myths, helping them to understand current post-secondary realities and educating them about where they might find reliable information regarding their child’s choices. I do find much of the conversation is reminding parents that all they read or hear in the media is not factual nor reliable. I recently heard a TV financial celebrity talking on a highly respected talk show state a number of “facts” about university admissions which were so far off the mark, I cringed. Part of the problem is that much of the other advice he gave was valid. How does a parent discover what is valid and what is not? Another pet peeve of mine is the annual university rankings which are published by popular media magazines and newspapers. These are often based on criteria which have no influence of the individual student’s experience. How does one combat this? I have found that my most successful strategy is to educate the parents about resources which do provide reliable and valid information which is useful in supporting their child’s decision. Some like the University Canada (www.universitystudy.ca), the Common University Data from the Council of Ontario Universities (http://cou.on.ca/numbers/cudo) and eInfo (http://electronicinfo.ca) websites I have mentioned in earlier blogs. I recently read an article reviewing Major Maps, a new resource from Queen’s University Career Services (careers.queensu.ca/students/wondering-about-career-options/major-maps-2015). This is a truly valuable resource helping students (and especially parents) to understand the possible directions a student might take when completing a degree which is not specifically career focused. The maps offer more than a simple list of potential career paths, they also offer suggestions about how a student might get involved beyond the classroom to better prepare for the job market upon graduation. Contrary to the media, there continue to be remarkable opportunities for graduates in all university disciplines. Parents, who are worried about the employment opportunities upon graduation, need to see this type of resource so they can support the son or daughter who has a fascination in an area where career opportunities are not quite as obvious.
For a list of many of the web resources I like to use, visit my website at www.PeirceEducational.com/Links.html.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA