Many students who enter university may be under the impression that their faculty’s guidance counceling services are going to provide them with all of the academic and career advice that they would need during their four years in school. Yet the reality is that many guidance offices are strapped for resources, and that the councelors on staff are often only able to provide support for basic concerns regarding progression through your program.
For other concerns that you might have during university, such as questions about possible career trajectories or graduate school, it is best to seek out help from other more effective resources that you have access too.
Why Would You Need Counseling
It is quite common for students to enter university not having a clear end goal regarding where they want to be in life after they complete their bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, as many university programs are highly abstract and theoretical, students often find themselves in need of guidance when contemplating their next move after undergrad.
Three Great Resources for Counseling in University
1. Your Professors
If you are contemplating graduate school after you finish your bachelor’s, there is nothing more critical than maintaining an open dialogue with one or two of your professors. These are people who have experienced the process first hand, and are in the best position to guide you through applications and selecting programs that are commensurate with your interests.
Since master’s programs and graduate schools generally require a couple of academic reference letters for their admissions process, it is essentially mandatory to seek out a few of your professors for help if you wish to continue school after undergrad.
2. Teaching Assistants
As teaching assistants are graduate students themselves, they are also a great resource to tap into for advice if you wish to continue in academia.
Moreover, many master’s programs are geared towards providing their students with more practical knowledge to enter the workforce. Thus unlike professors who have committed themselves to a lifetime of academic work, many graduate students may be more knowledgeable of industry and what it takes to succeed in the real world. Therefore while teaching assistants may be less effective in writing you a reference letter, they are likely better prepared to help you plot out a potential career path after university.
Yet it is not guaranteed that every teaching assistant you encounter will be eager to help you. Therefore it is important to craft a relationship with your teaching assistant during your term with them. Be sure to participate often in tutorials and visit office hours occasionally. By doing so, you can form a more personal bond with the teaching assistant and make them more inclined to help out.
3. Older Students, Graduates, and Alumni Associations
If your goal after university is to make practical use of your education and enter the workforce directly, then perhaps your best resource are people that have been in your shoes before and are further along the path of life than you are.
Students in the upper years of your program might be great people to approach when you are trying to figure out how to score a great summer internship.
Meanwhile graduates of your program can provide a model of what sort of careers to look at once you have completed university. They may also provide some invaluable advice that they have acquired through trial and error.
Finally reaching out to alumni associations as you finish undergrad might be a great way to forge valuable connections that will help you land a job. These associations are often made up of graduates from your faculty that have successfully made it in industry. The sense of kinship that derives from graduating from the same program will likely make more them sympathetic to your cause, and might provide you the necessary ties to get your foot in the door.
Why You May Still Need Traditional Guidance Counselors
While the aforementioned resources are invaluable in terms of providing guidance for life after undergrad, you may likely still need traditional academic counseling for more practical matters while still in school. At some point in their academic careers, the majority of undergrad students make some sort of alteration to their program .
Whether it be deciding to double major, removing a minor from your program , or pursuing an honors specialization in a particular subject, the reality is that keeping track of the breadth requirements for your module can get quite confusing. Many faculties also tend to make alterations to program requirements every few years.
For this specific problem it is strongly recommended that you visit your faculty guidance counselor’s office at least once a year to make sure that you are on top of your program requirements and on track to graduate. Every year their are countless stories of students who failed to graduate on time, and were stuck in undergrad for an extra semester because they misinterpreted their program’s requirements.
This issue is more common than you may think, and there is no reason to feel too embarrassed to reach out for help. After all, that is what university counseling is there for.