Tag Archives: decision-making

Media and Parents in the Post-Secondary Decision-Making Process

Posted by: Mike Peirce on July 11, 2015 2:50 pm

stanford-63689_640While 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

Critical Thinking: A Key Career and Life Skill

Posted by: Denise Hall on July 8, 2015 2:00 pm

Have you ever said to yourself “What was I thinking?” You realize that you ignored all the red flags at the beginning when you went for the job interview and took the job or you have somehow forgotten that you have tried that route before and now you are here in a similar setting that did not work before. We sometimes do not do the analysis before we agree to a situation or have come to some faulty assumptions that we wonder how we could be so confused and make a poor decision.

Faulty thinking is one of hazards that we, in our humanness are prone, to. What I am meaning is that simply going by our intuition can send us down the wrong track. An article title133d the “Pitfalls of Doing What Comes Naturally” by Diane Cole (2011) in the Psychotherapy Networker provides a counter to the “extraordinary influence wielded by the intuitive mind” in current thinking (p. 1). The author references Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell as a popular work that suggests the decision making power of the intuition is stronger than rational and logical reasoning.

Cole (2011) suggests that the cognitive research cited in The Invisible Gorilla by Chabri and Simons (2010) and On Second Thought by Herbert (2010) provide counter arguments to the “overly positive” view of using intuition as a guide. Their take on cognitive psychology is that our intuition is sometimes helpful and sometimes not. What we remember intuitively largely from our unconscious is influenced by heuristics, “hard-wired mental –shortcuts and cognitive “rules of thumb” that we use in our daily decision-making. The study of heuristics is on the forefront of cognitive research today.

Coasting along on autopilot making decisions, the authors suggest, can cause serious errors in judgment. In this case the information we remember and use for our decision-making sometimes can be considered a “heuristic distortion”. The article suggests that because our mind simplifies and categorizes information it produces these distortions. The premise of the article is that this sometimes erroneous automatic process must be over-ridden by more conscious processes. We need to “tune-in and decipher our brain chatter” (p. 2). What we remember and attend to gets simplified and categorized into schemas or mental maps and they need to be reprogrammed according to the author. Continue reading

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

The Map and the Compass: Creating a New Dream

Posted by: Sally Halliday on May 12, 2015 12:20 pm

What did you dream about doing when you were a child?” When someone asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” what did you say?

As a career counsellor, I often want to ask this question to new clients, as a way to get them telling a story that is easy and fun to tell about themselves. But for those I work with who are mostly in mid-career, who feel frustrated with the status quo yet confused about how to start making positive career shifts, the question might be too much to ask. Here’s the kind of story I usually hear at the beginning of our sessions:

“I used to love my work. Now I’m burned out. What happened?”
“I really just fell into my first job and ten years went by.”
“I used to think this work was creative. Is it me who changed or the job?”
“It used to be a great job. Stable income. Decent work. Now, I wish I’d left years ago. “

It’s a story of being stuck, feeling somewhat helpless, wanting to change but ambivalent about risking any trade-offs. Still, underneath it all, I can sense a deep yearning. Yearning for purpose, passion, motivation and all the other things that a dream promises. So I don’t want to deny anyone their dream. It’s a matter of timing, and building up some confidence to trust themselves that they can locate a dream again, one that matters today.

shifting sands
One of the concepts I work with is the Map and the Compass. It’s a metaphor that came from Steve O’Donahue’s book about navigating change, captured in his own story of crossing the Sahara called Shifting Sands.( http://www.amazon.ca/Shifting-Sands-Guidebook-Crossing-Deserts/dp/1576752801). He offers the image of a desert as a more realistic way of capturing the experience of change and risk taking, rather than the more common image of climbing the mountain. Continue reading

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

“Please Don’t Tell My Mum!” Confidentiality and School Counselling

Posted by: Barbara Schneebeli on February 14, 2012 4:28 pm

“Please, don’t tell my parents!” I have heard this phrase many times and, often I just need to reassure the student that my lips are sealed. Other times, a conflict arises. In the heat of the moment, I am face with “I trusted you!” because ethically and legally I need to disclose the information to a third party. 

As counsellors, trust becomes our ally in the therapeutic process. It is an important indicator of a strong relationship and helps to foster, among other things, the healing process.  The promise of confidentiality, I am convinced, helps me in gaining students’ trust. I have learned over the years to insure that students understand the realm of confidentiality. I try to hold ongoing discussions as to how, when, and with whom information is to be shared. 

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

When Clients Die: To Cry, or Not to Cry?

Posted by: Siri Brown on January 20, 2012 3:41 pm

The recent holidays reminded me of a time when I returned home from a two week vacation refreshed, rested, and rejuvenated.  Work started at 8:30am; at 8:36am a colleague is in my office, face sombre, eyes welled, asking, “Have you heard?”   A client, survivor of a series of unfortunate hardships, has died in a tragic incident.  My colleague looks at me expectantly, arms hovering, silently offering the need for a hug, and I am flummoxed.  The time, now 8:39am, brings another colleague into view, ready to share the same sad news.  I see both of their expectant faces, waiting for the “typical” response – but though I am saddened by the news (the client was a delightful, generous, unique human being), I am not emotionally devastated, as seems to be expected.  It begs the question:  to cry, or not to cry?

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

Why Processing Occupational Information May Be Well-Suited For Your Own “Central-Processing Unit”

Posted by: Jeffrey Landine on July 8, 2011 12:07 pm

Career development is one area of counselling that appears to have embraced the efficiency and seemingly endless capacity of technology to store information in a readily accessible way.  Online assessments and databases such as CHOICES and Career Cruising are now integral aspects of career development curriculum and approaches to career counselling across the country.  Government departments in Canada and the US have taken on the task of developing frameworks for organizing occupations and occupational information (NOC and O*NET) using hierarchical relationships that organize occupations in terms of responsibilities and occupation domains, and level of education.  These frameworks are akin to the hierarchical manner in which information is stored in a computer.

In the realm of cognitive psychology, information-processing models often represent cognition, our information-processing abilities, as involving a series of sequential stages similar to the functioning of a computer where information, the input, is first into the computer through our sensory register.  There it is processed, and the resulting output is an answer or solution to a problem.  With computers, as long as the information at the input end is the same and the internal processes brought to bear on the information are similar, the output is the same, regardless of the computer used.  When the problem or, in the realm we are addressing, a career decision, involves human processing, however, the resulting answers or decisions are not always the same, even when the information being input is the same from one person to the next.  For example, a presentation made to a first-year university class describes the process involved in becoming a corporate banker, the typical duties a banker performs, and future employment outlooks for this occupation.  While all students receive the same information, what is done with the information likely varies from student to student.  This suggests that there are complicating variables that render each individual’s processing of information unique. 

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

Life Tasks Critical to Identity Formation

Posted by: Jeffrey Landine on April 7, 2011 4:09 pm

By: Jeff Landine and John Stewart

It is generally accepted that a stable identity is an important precursor to effective career decision-making.  The importance of self-knowledge to the career decision-making process has been recognized since Frank Parson’s 1909 statement, and forms a key foundational element in just about every model of career development and/or choice being used today. In the next few weeks we will address the role of identity and how it impacts career development and/or decision-making for young Canadian adults.

Identity can be viewed as developing and existing in different domains within the self-system.  Current notions suggest that the different dimensions of human development including physical, cognitive, social/emotional, moral, spiritual and vocational, all play some part in identity formation.  Skorikov and Vondracek (1998) expanded on the distinct role that vocational identity plays in the overall development of self-system.  Despite the possibility that different domains of identity exist, there are commonalities in the dynamics by which identity forms.  Grotevant, Thorbecke and Meyer (1982) point to the importance of exploration, making commitments, crises in interpersonal relationships, and interactions in social and work-related realms as key factors in identity formation.

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