In this chapter, you learned about what it takes to be a successful graduate counseling student. It is not unusual to feel intimidated during the early stages of your graduate school experience, whether you are coming straight from undergraduate training or returning after a lengthy absence from academia. You can expect a transition from your previous coursework as you begin graduate school courses; however, there are many resources and supports available that can help you be successful. As you move through graduate school, you will find that you will grow and change in many productive, exciting ways.
As you delve into your coursework, it is important that you are well prepared. Faculty members, especially your academic advisor, and other students in your program will be invaluable sources of information. The relationships you develop with your graduate school colleagues can support your academic pursuits while also providing you with a positive social support resource. As you pursue graduate studies, your colleagues, family, and friends will be an important part of your personalized self-care plan.
Personal growth in graduate school is inevitable, and it is just as important as professional development. In fact, without personal growth, you cannot expect to achieve a high degree of professional development. As you participate in classes, you will be asked to examine your own belief systems and become aware of and manage personal biases.
The final leg of your counseling graduate school experience involves fieldwork. Fieldwork experiences are a lengthy portion of your graduate school training, so it is important to be proactive in planning to ensure you will have an ability to stay focused on the work of becoming a practicing counselor. Your field placement allows you to become familiar with working in a real-world counseling setting, and it serves as a steppingstone as you begin your professional counseling career.
Graduate school is a time of great personal and professional growth. As you heard from many graduate students, professors, and administrators within this chapter, this is one of the most important times of your life. Consider getting involved as more than a student in your program and look for ways to engage in professional service. The more involved you can be in your program, the better chance you will have of forming supportive relationships and connections. Through it all, remember to seek balance between school, work, and your social life.
- 1. When you imagine yourself as a professional counselor, what comes to mind?
- 2. What qualities do you possess that will make you successful as a graduate student?
- 3. What are some challenges that you anticipate facing as a graduate student?
- 4. Knowing that graduate school can be stressful, what strategies can you use to maintain balance and self-care?
- 5. In addition to working directly with clients during your training experiences, what other opportunities can you pursue in order to enhance your professional development?