Tag Archives: advice

CollegeQandA asks: What questions challenge your advisors/mentors?

What questions challenge your advisors/mentors?

The reality is the questions here are the big questions we all have.  In university, your mentors are great for asking simple questions to such as: “which course should I do next?” or “what are some good career options to look in to?”.  More complex questions, which are usually individual and deep personal searches, are hard for all of us.

Does that mean you shouldn’t have those discussions with your advisors and mentors?  No, but expect them to be long conversations that you will need to reflect on more than you possibly thought going in.

Person in meditation by water

So, what are these questions?

“What should I do with my life/career/major?”

Those are big questions.  Flavors of that question are hidden in others such as, “should I do this major or this major?” or “will I like this job?”

There are two certainties to deep questions of your future.  One, it’s a personal decision.  Two, the decision can be an educated decision, but is impossible to make as right or wrong – it is just a chosen path.

Find office hour times to have this discussion – quiet times are best

Your mentors and advisors can provide suggestions on how to help explore these questions, but they can not solve them for you.  For even something as simple as picking a major and what career will I have once I complete this major, all an advisor can tell you is where people have gone previously with certain paths, and provide insight on their own experiences and paths.

The bigger task is for you to determine which path you want to take now.  And here is the problem.  Not all paths can be taken.  Only one can be pursued.  At some point, you just have to make a decision and take a path.  Once on that path, observe opportunities and, potentially, take other paths.  A little bit of reflection and thought along the path will guide you in, hopefully, better directions for you, but the unpredictable is, well, unpredictable.

Credits: photo titled: Wisdom; by Moyan Brenn


CollegeQandA asks: What should I expect from my professors?

What should I expect from my professors?

SunTzu quote about enemies

College is a confusing time for many.  In particular, many 17 to 23 year olds are experiencing independence from their families with the increased expectations of higher education.  Where do your professors fit in this world as it pertains to relationships?

Firstly, not your close friend

In an undergraduate, your professors are not adversaries, but they should also not be your close friends.  That type of relationship may develop once you complete your undergraduate, and you might spend time with your professor in some leisure activities, but you shouldn’t be spending too much time together in instances such as time at a bar or romantically.  Instead, your professors should be trusted more experienced adults.

These are the people you can go to to get advice on your career, your education, and some of your challenges.  Expect them to learn about you and your goals and aspirations, but don’t expect them to be your close friend.

They are not your adversaries

Just because a professor is teaching your class and giving you grades, they are not your adversary either.  The reality is grades are meant to be an assessment of your learning (a feedback process) that allows you to figure out how you are performing at learning.  Many students may feel that the professor is attacking them personally, but hopefully, your teachers are trying to provide you with a fair feedback system in which you are being assessed based on your performance.

Similarly, you are not in competition with your peers either.  There might be some friendly competition with them, but in reality your peers and your professors should be part of your allies in helping you (and them) succeed.

Trusted adults who guide your learning

In the end, you are hoping that your professors will guide you for the better.  This means that the relationship is not that of strangers, but not of close friends.  Your professor will be honest with you in terms of how you are progressing.  They are not perfect and will make mistakes, and similarly, you are not perfect and will make mistakes.  They will be honest and provide you with feedback to help you learn and grow.  They are not your parents.  They are not your enemies.  They are useful in providing career advice, but remember their career is in academia.  They only differ from you in terms of experience, but they have also spent significant time thinking and working in their subjects.

Credits: Photo titled: Know your enemy; by Celestine Chua