We live in a world of unlimited career possibilities, choices on the one hand and personalisation and individualisation on the other. Career and college counselling is a scientific and intentional method of matching these two ends. It simply brings together the person and the possibilities!
To have to talk about the ‘need’ for counselling today when even the most basic and inconsequential choices and decisions have us looking through reviews, recommendations and ratings from multiple sources is a striking example of the lack of understanding of the holistic support that young adults need as they manoeuvrer through critical life choices. After all, the decision of choosing a higher education pathway or a career is one that impacts our lifetime. Definitely much more critical and long lasting than ordering a pizza or buying a phone! Moreover, it is a choice that defines our identity to a large extent, making the need to approach an expert a necessity rather than a luxury.
Career and college counselling presents a framework of support to approach decision-making to help young students find a sense of purpose and direction. The process of choosing the best-fit curriculum, subjects within that, higher education programmes and so on comes with its set of pressures, excitement and anxiety, along with other influencers. Unravelling passions, interests and strengths is central to this process and needs the effort, observations and investment of a professional.
Well trained counsellors try to bring together the understanding of the student’s personality, talent, aptitude, ability, aspirations and family opinion, and map a suitable career pathway. This includes advising for choices at different stages and at multiple levels, largely under the domain of what and where to study, and how to make it happen. This requires conversations and research with the students and their families over a period of time, starting as early as Class 8-9 through Class 12 and beyond.
Information about careers, colleges, courses and study destinations is now just a click away, often leading to an overwhelming information overload. A counsellor can help make sense of this information in a timely and well-planned manner. Students can benefit from an expert who can put pieces of information together.
Another important aspect to consider is the ecosystem in which the counsellor works. An expert available to students in school has an advantage simply due to the access and an understanding of the culture in which students spend a considerable amount of time. The counsellor in school has the opportunity to observe and understand the student, academically, socially, at an individual level, and also in a group context, allowing for a longitudinal view of his/her growth and changes. This offers comprehensive background information along with the setting to collaborate with teachers who meet the students on an everyday basis, thereby not only helping understand the student completely, but also positively impacting academic success and motivation.
Since childhood, all of us have had to grapple with the answer to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Career and college counselling support, given at the right time and in the right setting is invaluable in helping everyone discover their own, unique answer to this lifelong quest.
The writer is the Academic Head, IC3 Institute