Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thoughts for Parents from the Director

Glenn Triezenberg, Director of Career Development, brings years of experience in the field to his annual talks to parents of in-coming freshmen. With wit and warmth, he connects with parents on a number of levels. In case you missed that talk, here’s what he had to say:

Four points which parents need to know now:
1) It’s normal for freshmen not to know what their major is and future career will be.
2) It’s normal for students to switch ideas on major and career as they grow and mature. These are developmentally linked and experientially based changes.  What’s a parent to do in the meantime? Be patient while they develop and while God develops his will in their lives.
3) It’s normal for parents, seeing the struggle, to want to provide answers. But sometimes open ended questions prove to be more effective. Questions such as: what are you learning; what are you liking; how are you growing; what are you involved in (encouraging balance in their life style). And finally, are you doing your job? Meaning the job of being a good and faithful student.
4) It’s normal for parents to encourage students to see a career counselor within the first year of college (took a few editorial liberties with this tip to retain consistency…though not necessarily Normal, this idea is Highly Suggested). Why? Because career counselors want to get to know students as persons, find out where they are developmentally, establish a relationship and help them discover God’s will for their lives as well as how they can best spend their time and talents.

For a full list of Career Development Services, visit http://www.calvin.edu/admin/career/handouts/

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/19 at 03:53 PM
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Choosing a Major—Initial Thoughts

In all my summers as a career counselor, this one stands out for a single reason—the uptick in the number of incoming freshmen I’m seeing.

I find their initiative impressive. Meeting with a career counselor early on in their college career makes a good deal of sense on a number of levels. In addition to getting some initial questions answered, they have also begun a relationship which will grow over the next 4 years. When I meet with seniors I’ve known since freshman year, I’m well acquainted with them historically. They are comfortable, relaxed and we can continue our conversation where we left off.

But in some senses, I am dismayed by the pressure and stress the freshmen exhibit. Pressure and resulting stress over the question of choosing a major, a perfect major to set them up for career and life success. That’s a heavy load to carry since most college freshmen are just beginning to discover who they are, one of the essential building blocks of good career decision making. Values, priorities, dreams, gifts, talents, interests, and most importantly, calling—all of these are in process and subject to re-evaluation throughout life. And most importantly during that freshman year.

So what do I really want to say to the freshmen on the verge of tears over the ‘major’ question? Unless someone is considering a pre-professional program with prescribed coursework, my advice is to just relax. Give yourself time, a year at minimum, to explore. Try out dorm activities, campus clubs, service-learning opportunities, on-campus jobs and later, off-campus programs. Exploring on the outset will go a long way in preventing comments like this from seniors: “If I had to choose a major all over again, it would be a lot different from the one I chose as a freshman.”

 

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/19 at 02:28 PM
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Aunt Bonnie Returns

One would think that a near-year with no postings would be enough of a break. And what has prompted this sudden return?  Perhaps the fact that there are just too many great un-told stories floating around. Some of them untold for legitimate and embarrassing reasons—which will become obvious in the soon to be told Story of the Protruding Thong. But there are other stories which surface on a daily basis as people wrestle with everything from weighty to not-so-weighty issues. For instance, the question “What should I major in?” feels like a huge, life impacting and stress-provoking question for freshmen, closely tied to worry about making an irreversible decison. And “What do I do now that I’m out of college?” is often code for “Who am I now that my friends have moved on and I no longer have the security of a student identity or even a (good) job?” These are just two areas where people grace me with an opportunity to share in their story—its stresses, struggles and ultimate joys.

So Aunt Bonnie is back. To observe, to record and to pass along.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/11 at 02:09 PM
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