Academic and Professional Counseling: Where to go to in University


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.

What University Clubs Should You Join?

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All major university campuses typically feature a wide variety of extracurricular clubs that you can joins. These university clubs are generally geared towards people with similar interests in certain subjects, and include organizations such as athletic teams, student politics, charity organizations, fan clubs, and professional training groups.

The Importance of University Clubs

While the majority of your time and mental energy during university will be geared towards your classes and academic requirements, there is vast potential for learning and personal growth outside of your program’s curriculum. Joining the right university clubs can not only help you develop valuable skills that you can put to use in the real world, but might also give you an edge when applying to jobs after you undergraduate career is over.

Three Common Types of University Clubs

Athletic Clubs

Athletic clubs range from high level school varsity teams to common intramural sports. Generally more students would be inclined to join the latter, as only few are high calibre athletes. Nonetheless being part of an amateur sports team is a great way to stay in shape and to make new friends. Thus athletic university clubs can be quite rewarding as they foster team building skills and provide you with a break from your studies that is genuinely fun and engaging.

Advocacy/ Political Groups

Another option that might be worth your time is joining a club that advocates for a certain cause or charity. If you feel strongly about an issue like poverty or the environment then you would be well served joining a group that is committed to taking action towards those issues. Not only does this allow you to become proactive about your views it also lets you gain valuable experience in managing an organization, if you stick to that club and rise up in its ranks.

Likewise, if you are passionate about politics, it might also be beneficial to join the student chapter of a political party on your campus. All of the major Canadian political parties have affiliate clubs in most universities. By joining one of these groups you have a chance to network with like minded people, potentially gain access to certain internship roles within political organizations, and get a head start to a possible career in public service.

Professional Clubs

Professionally geared university clubs can include a wide spectrum of organizations such as, student newspapers, accounting or management clubs, or theater production groups. These clubs can be highly beneficial as they give you hands on skills and training in fields that you might be interested in working once you graduate. Even if they are not directly related to the career stream you are set on following, these clubs allow you to test out different professional fields and earn some valuable resume padding.

Make the Most out of University Clubs

Ultimately when it comes to picking university clubs it is of the utmost importance to do what feels right for you, and to join a club that speaks to your interests, and that allow you to grow as a person. That said it is strongly encouraged that you do participate in extracurricular activities while you are in undergrad as they can help you build very important professional, interpersonal, and organizational skills.