Hi there fellow students,
My name is Paul and I’ve been studying at ACCS for the last 5 years. I’d love to share some of my thoughts and experiences with those just starting this journey as well as those further along the path.
I recall sitting down in my first class at the old Miranda campus having no idea what I was in for. As I looked around the room at the 8 or so other students who were at various points of the Bachelor of Social Science journey I felt completely out of my depth and feared I had bitten off way more than I could chew. It was only as my journey unfolded over the following months and years that I realised that same fear permeated in varying degrees through every one of my fellow student’s hearts and minds.
As I reflect on this time now, I note the development of relational depth and community amongst my fellow students came as each of us risked vulnerability in sharing the positive learning experiences as well as the fears and challenges that comes with the study journey.
Being counselling students I found there can be self and other expectations around the ability to identify and work through psychological concerns. I recall being asked by a friend of mine “do you actually work on yourselves at college?”
I laughed and said “that’s 90% of what we do.”
In light of this if I was to give any advice to students starting this journey, it would be ‘open yourself up’, You will learn much and develop a depth of self-awareness that will change you forever. Even if you are not much of a journal writer, find a method to record reflections along the way. I am reminded of the importance of reflective writing by Corey (2016) as he stated “Ethical decision making is an evolutionary process that requires you to be continually self-reflective”(p. 53).
As I reflect on the academic aspect of tertiary education, a significant part of my feelings of fear and inadequacy where around academic writing. It was such a foreign concept to me and struck fear into my mind resulting in tears on a number of occasions in the beginning. I now value the opportunity to speak into the lives of those experiencing similar emotions by saying, “hang in there” the writing skills with come and the fear will subside.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a freak academic sister. If I was to pass along a pivotal suggestion from my sister in those early days it would be to:
- Make sure you answer the question.
- Employ the PEEL method of writing in your essay structure
- P. make your Point.
- E. provide Evidence, this is where you reference your sources using the APA format. This may be direct quotes on occasion, however my favourite words became “such and such (2019) alluded to ……….. “ this phrasing became a very close companion on my academic writing learning curve.
- E. Explain how this evidence proves or reinforces your original point.
- L. Link all this back to your original point and theme.
This structure helped enormously through the last 5 years and I hope it’s helpful for those reading this now.
I also greatly value the guidance of my very first lecturer to use my structured nature to my advantage by creating detailed filing systems for each subject I undertook, Save Everything! I cannot count how many times I benefited from this advice as I cross referenced past subject’s core text books, journal articles and case studies supplied in the course material.
As I wrap up my reflections on this crazy rollercoaster ride called tertiary study, I must share the importance of self-care, I have learnt this lesson the hard way and again value the opportunity to help other students avoid the pitfalls of not looking after yourself and juggling too many balls at the one time. Corey, Muratori, Austin & Austin (2018) in their text Counsellor Self Care allude to self care as a requisite for competent professional practice, furthermore inferring self care as an ethical mandate. Basically we need to look after ourselves. Find what works for you and make it a priority.
It is my desire to help myself, my current and future clients find freedom and self-awareness and I sincerely hope this reflection has been helpful for you also as you navigate this journey.
Carter, D. & Gradin, S. (2001) Writing as Reflective Action: A reader. New York: Longman Pearson.
Corey, G. (2016). (10th Edition) Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Corey, Gerald, Michelle Muratori, Jude T. Austin II and Julius A. Austin. (2018). Counselor Self Care. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Wilkins, P. (2000). Unconditional positive regard reconsidered. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 28(1), 23-36.