It’s no secret that in most student facing roles, such as advising, students will often treat you as their counselor – no matter how many times you tell them that you’re not a trained professional in that sense. Nonetheless, if you’re their first point of contact, you’re likely going to end up imparting some of your hard earned life wisdom upon the sobbing student sitting across from you at one point or another. Since my time as an academic advisor, I’ve noticed myself giving the same 4 pieces of advice over and over:
Be kind to yourself
Because actually saying, “Stop treating yourself like shit!” would come off as much to harsh to those who are not used to my blunt sense of humor. Instead, I frequently speak with my students about the harm that can come from negative self-talk. It’s toxic and can lead to poor performance or hurt relationships. Because if you tell yourself how dumb you are or that no one likes you enough times, you begin to believe it which can lead to the ill-fated self-fulfilling prophecy. And as someone who has struggled with some serious low self-esteem and the accompanied negative self-talk, I know just how debilitating it can be.
Get comfy asking for help
Whether that help be in the form of counseling or tutoring for class, asking for and accepting help is crucial to our success. That is literally why we live in an organized society – because one individual all on their own isn’t going to make it very far. Plus, I advise pre-health students (i.e. those interested in nursing for example), so my question lately has been, “What do people go to the doctor or the nurse for?”. Inevitably, this will lead to the answer that people go seek out a health professional for help. But how can you extend help to someone if you don’t accept any yourself?
Be open to other options
A lot of the students I see are stuck in tunnel vision. They have their sights set on one option and one option only. Whether it’s only that one program or that one profession or that one path. But guess what! Life is rarely ever a straight shot for which every step works out exactly like planned. I end up having this conversation on a daily basis in which I explain that it is okay to consider alternative routes or professions or majors or favorite lunch spots (seriously, the amount of students who won’t even step foot beyond one block of campus is astonishing and they end up missing out on the best restaurants!). Their mind is stuck on this one path which, if not mitigated from the beginning, often results in a sobbing student 6 months later because one of their carefully planned out steps went sideways.
Google is a thing
A good chunk of my job is taken up by literally googling things for students such as “What does a gerontologist do?” or “What are education requirements for a forensic pathologist?” or “What classes are required for a psych major?”. You know who could do this equally as good as me? The student. You know who doesn’t realize that? The student. So lately, my question has been, “Have you done any research on this?”, to which the answer usually is “No” or “A little bit” which frankly translates to”No”. Thus, I either google it in front of them, to show them that they too have this magical tool or I tell them to go do some research and come back to me with their findings.
I’m curious as to what advice you end up giving out on the daily. Please share in the comments!
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