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What to Do When Asked for Advice About College

Quick Teaching Tip

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Here is what could be a tricky situation. You've been approached by a student who has been accepted to a couple of colleges and they want your advice about what they should do. This might seem a simple request upon its surface but realize that it can in fact present teachers with a potential problem. This is because you might not completely understand the student's situation. For example, if they have the choice between an in-state school and an ivy league school that is far from home, there will be a huge difference in cost and their might be some parental concerns about the choice.

In my opinion, you have two valid choices for dealing with this situation. The worst thing you could do is simply tell the student to do one thing or the other. It really is not your place and can open a can of worms that you would probably like to avoid. Instead, you could:

  1. Send the student to speak with their guidance counselor. They are trained to deal with these type of situations and will know how best to help the student.
  2. Provide the student with a way to help them make their decision on their own. You might pose some thought-provoking questions that they should answer before they make their decision. You should tell them to discuss those answers with their parents. You might advise them to create a list of pros and cons and rank their importance in your decision. Realize, however, that whenever you get involved in a situation like this, your words can have a much greater impact than you might think.
Over the years, you will find that students will come to you for all kinds of advice. Thinking about how you will handle these situations can help you avoid future problems.

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