Most career counsellors and almost all school counselors can provide stories about having to counsel a young person who was determined to pursue a career that seemed, to the observer at least, to be outside their ability level. Teaching courses in vocational counseling, I have, on a number of occasions, been faced with the following question from teachers who are working towards being counselors: What do I do when a student tells me that they want to be doctor and I know they don’t have the cognitive level of functioning or the grades to meet the entrance to pre-med science programs? One of the important, and particularly interesting, dimensions of the self-system is the dimension of realism. My colleague, John Stewart, wrote about the realism of vocational choice (Stewart, 1995), referring to it as the degree of fit between an individual’s work-related characteristics and the characteristics of the chosen work environment. A lack of realism in vocational choice can result in aspirations towards careers that require different skills and abilities than the individual possesses and can result in frustration or shock when the reality of trying to meet the demands of the job become obvious. Conversely, it can result in under-utilization of an individual’s skills and abilities, which can result in poor job satisfaction and a lack of productivity. The latter situation was at one time a more common phenomenon with females (Wolfe & Betz, 1981), stemming from the tendency to aspire only to careers that have been gender stereotyped as appropriate for women. This often resulted in women under utilizing their skills and abilities.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA