Today I have had several students stand at my door and ask questions about future programs. One student said she was looking for a guide to point her in the right direction. We chatted for a few moments and I told her that transitioning is like a process of discovery and there is no wrong way to go about it. We discussed beginning steps for her exploration and a time to check in again with what she learned.
Supporting students with making decisions for future post-secondary education is a transitioning process. It involves reflecting on successes to date and how those successes may provide a pathway to the future. Evidence gathering in a portfolio of transcripts, learning narratives and information on programs of interest can be a place to start. On a deeper level students or applicants need permission to discover. Discovery involves asking questions that promote self-awareness as well as information gathering on future programs and careers. Helping students create questions can be helpful. Questions about future programs can cover several topics including: potential costs, admission requirements, waiting lists, length of program and future employment prospects. I encourage students to ask about additional program requirements such as specialized courses or practicums. Some students learn about their future through assessment taking and online research. Other students do best with in person interviews and volunteering.
All students can benefit from checking in with a guide along the way. As counsellors we are often that guide. I spend a lot of my time with students talking about their readiness for the next step. The process of discovery needs to include an assessment of readiness. For each student readiness looks different.
Making decisions about the future is about questioning what works for them, it is also about becoming an expert on their own personal process, rhythm and strengths. Helping students become more aware of their strengths and challenges with learning can help them plan ahead for potential speed bumps and scaffold their success. For example, if a student knows they struggle with organization, planning out organizational strategies ahead of time can be beneficial. Each student has their own particular rhythm and pace to the learning process, and as they transition, they can put their own personal signature on the act of discovery. Decision-making needs to take into account their current personal situation, resources and supports. Students need to also recognize their comfort with risk. For example, if a student is prone to being anxious with change, then whatever option they choose needs to build in their need for safety.
Transitioning is about choosing the next best step. The next best step is about looking at the match between a student’s learning style, personality, strengths, resources, challenges and personal situation in relationship to program options. Transitioning is a beautiful way to support students in becoming their own guide and expert on their path and building their intuitive wisdom and decision-making.
By: Tanya Levy, MSW, RSW, CCC
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA