The 3 A's of Academic Counseling - Taking Students From Potential to Purpose

Has a student ever come to you, distraught over the decision of what to do next? Where should they go to college? What should they major in? What career should they pick?

Many students feel completely uneducated and unprepared in determining an aspiration or career goal for their future. Much less selecting the most beneficial next step toward it. Luckily, it does not always require a specialized degree to help get them started. Just help them ask, acquire, and act.

1. Ask

  • What do they like to do?
    • What do they enjoy? Don’t limit their answers here. Even if their immediate answer is playing video games, encourage them to keep thinking. Make a list of at least 5 things.
  • What are they good at?
    • What do they do well? What do other people praise them for? What do they find easy to accomplish?
  • What gets them excited?
    • More than what they enjoy, what makes them passionate? What stirs them up and makes them want to act immediately? What motivates them?
  • What would they do for free?
    • Even if they never got paid, what job would they still be willing to do?
  • If they could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
    • This is a great indicator of what cause, initiative, or purpose they would feel fulfilled working to accomplish. Do they care about sports? How could their strengths improve the athletic world? Do they wish they could set every cat and dog free from animal shelters? How can they utilize their skills to increase animal adoption rates or improve shelter conditions?

2. Acquire

  • Give them personality quizzes.
    • Some of my favorites are the 16 Personalities Test and StrengthsFinder 2.0. These tests reveal aptitude in particular areas, personality preferences, and even suggest specific careers. They can be a great aid in your student’s discovery.

3. Act

  • Encourage them to volunteer.
    • Students are not often exposed to a variety of professions. Push them to get involved somewhere that interests them. Let them learn firsthand what they like and don’t like.
    • Career options may seem limited to the traditional roles of teacher, doctor, lawyer, or business professional. Pupils may be shocked to discover the endless variety of positions, organizations, causes, companies, and businesses.
  • Have them try new electives.
    • Inspire them to explore. They never know what they may find themselves actually enjoying.

Take your student on a journey of reflection, enlightenment, and exploration. Give them permission to indulge in their passions and dream big. Allow them to generate inspiration their own inspiration. As the limitations of preconceived ideas are removed, take the opportunity to guide their ideas. Help them to recognize how their passions, skills, and experiences can align with a field they are excited by. You may just help them discover the delusional dream job fantasy is not so impossible after all.


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Kalexanderson.

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