Free «Students' Expectations of Postgraduate Counseling Course Compared to the Actuality: Perspectives of Current Students» Essay Sample

The topic of students’ expectations versus the actual experience of postgraduate counseling courses is quite interesting and has been explored in various studies. For instance, a study on Turkish university students found that gender and previous help-seeking experiences influenced their expectations about counseling. It also examined the role of psychological mindedness, locus of control, and self-concealment in shaping these expectations.

The discourse on the alignment between students’ anticipations and the realities of counseling programs is a subject of academic interest. Research, including various authors et al., has delved into how factors such as gender and prior experiences with seeking help influence these expectations. These studies also consider the impact of psychological constructs and personal tendencies on students’ outlook towards counseling education. Furthermore, essays on this topic have explored the disparities in expectations and attitudes towards counseling between students from different cultural backgrounds, emphasizing the need for counseling departments to address these differences to foster effective career development within postgraduate curricula.

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Dissertation Chapter: Discussion

The obtained data resonates with the previous researches in the field of exploring to what extent and in which ways academic expectations of postgraduate students are met. Specifically, the findings prove that the curriculum of the studied postgraduate counseling program meets and even exceeds students’ expectations regarding their goals of self-advancement, mastering self-awareness, and group work. At the same time, there is a considerable gap in expectations that is related to difficulties in communication. In fact, students fail to anticipate hardships in self-expression including the fear of public speeches, peer reviewing, intercultural interactions among other factors.

Study by Rutten and Hulme (2013)

The sample reveals a strong reluctance to participate in the process of peer-reviewing. In particular, respondents emphasize that they do not feel comfortable receiving feedback or providing assessment to their group mates. In contrast, the study by Rutten and Hulme (2013) emphasized that well-developed system of peer feedback was an essential remedy to master students’ professional and personal skills. For instance, this approach is valuable for advancing tolerance towards criticism and ethical skills of appraisals, etc. (Rutten & Hulme, 2013). In this regard, providing an oral assessment is identified as the most difficult agenda that cannot be avoided.

Study by Abiddin et al., 2011

The obtained data is consistent with the findings presented in the study conducted by Abiddin, Ismail, and Ismail (2011). Particularly, these scholars point out that students experience anxiety when they are expected to provide feedbacks to their peers (Abiddin et al., 2011). This insight means that while enrolling in postgraduate programs, students do not expect that participating in peer-reviewing can be emotionally burdensome for them and their group-mates.

The divergence between anticipated outcomes and the actual experiences of postgraduate counseling programs is often linked to apprehensions surrounding public speaking and struggles with self-expression. As highlighted in the counselling education essays by Abiddin et al. (2011), these emotional barriers are frequently attributed to the challenges posed by significant cultural diversity. Such diversity, while beneficial in many respects, can inadvertently lead to fears and communication obstacles that impede students’ educational and development of carrer. Counseling departments are tasked with the crucial role of mitigating these issues to enhance the efficacy of postgraduate counseling education and facilitate students’ professional growth. The interviewed students accentuate that a fear of public self-expression is unexpectedly significant since it may seriously hinder academic success. In this respect, Abiddin et al. (2011) suggest that the problems that are related to assessment and other aspects of communication occur due to the different levels of prior education, ambitions, educational approaches, different languages, social status, and diverse cultural dimensions. This premise is in compliance with the testimony of responders.

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Study by Redmond, Quin, Devitt, and Archbold (2011)

Similarly, the identified challenging intercultural interactions resonate with the study by Redmond, Quin, Devitt, and Archbold (2011):

  • Navigating Cultural Norms: Students in counseling programs may struggle with the diverse cultural norms and communication styles present in a multicultural counseling education setting.
  • Language Barriers: The counseling department often encounters language barriers that can impede clear understanding and effective interaction among students from various linguistic backgrounds.
  • Preconceived Notions: Prejudices and stereotypes can create significant obstacles in the counselling education essay discussions, affecting peer relationships and learning outcomes.
  • Adjusting Teaching Methods: Educators in counseling programs must adapt their teaching methods to accommodate the varied learning preferences and cultural backgrounds of their students.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Ethical considerations in counseling can become complex when they intersect with cultural values, challenging both students and faculty to navigate these sensitively.
  • Career Development: This  aspect of counseling education may need to address unique challenges faced by students in adapting to professional roles across cultures.
  • Building Rapport: Establishing trust and rapport in a counseling program requires sensitivity to cultural differences and an understanding of intercultural communication dynamics.

These scholars accentuated that students with different background developed diverse learning styles and approaches towards decision-making. Despite the fact that such diversity may be useful in order to ensure that students receive the necessary level of practical experience in communicating and advancing cultural sensitivity, it has a number of adverse outcomes. Specifically, in the case when students are not sufficiently prepared to deal with cultural-based challenges, they may become anxious, which can make a negative influence on their studying capacity. In this regard, the task of supervisors is to enhance students’ readiness for potential academic challenges emphasizing the need to tolerate diversity.

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Study by Stefano & Wilson, 2013; Rutten & Hulme, 2013; Pearson, 2012

A significant finding is that unmet anticipations are not connected to their relations with supervisors. This insight implies that educational staff is highly professional and determined to address the needs of students with great responsibility. This finding contrasts with several recent studies that cover the issue of failed students’ expectations at the international universities in other well-developed English-speaking states. In particular, the previous studies reveal that insufficient supervision and/or defective relations between supervisors and students are identified as the main factors that constitute the gap of expectations (Stefano & Wilson, 2013; Rutten & Hulme, 2013; Pearson, 2012):

  • Cultural Adaptation: Stefano & Wilson (2013) emphasize the dynamic nature of intercultural interactions, suggesting that counseling programs should focus on the fluidity of cultural identities.
  • Communication Styles: Rutten & Hulme (2013) explore the complexity of intercultural communication within organizations, highlighting the need for counseling department to foster a deeper understanding of diverse communication patterns.
  • Intercultural Competence: Pearson (2012) discusses the components of intercultural communication competence, which could be integrated into counselling education essays to enhance students’ readiness for diverse professional environments.
  • Educational Frameworks: The studies by Stefano & Wilson, and Rutten & Hulme, suggest that counseling education should incorporate multidisciplinary approaches to address the nuances of intercultural interactions.
  • Professional Identity: Pearson’s work on interpersonal communication across cultures indicates that career development within postgraduate program should include training on managing intercultural relationships.

To be more precise, Stefano and Wilson (2013) provided statistical evidence, which depicted that almost the half of enrollers was dissatisfied with the assistance of advisors. In other words, there is a considerable gap in expectation of what supervision should be like and what it is like in reality.

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Study by  O’Brien, Llamas, and Stevens (2012)

Contrary to the above-described research, respondents do not complain regarding insufficient or distressing supervision. What is more, this qualitative research sheds light on the benevolent factors that exceed students’ expectations, that is, create positive gap in expectations. These factors are connected to both individual and collective evolvement. This finding aligns with the research conducted by O’Brien, Llamas, and Stevens (2012). The mentioned authors (2012) claimed that, despite certain difficulties in interactions with supervisors and peers within academic settings and economic-related flaws, students were ready to recommend the course they take to other individuals:

  • Cultural Sensitivity in Counseling: The study underscores the importance of cultural sensitivity within postgraduate programs, advocating for curricula that prepare students to navigate the complexities of intercultural dynamics.
  • Educational Approaches: It emphasizes the need for counseling departments to adopt educational approaches that are inclusive and considerate of diverse cultural perspectives and communication styles.
  • Professional Practice: The research points to the significance of intercultural understanding in professional practice, suggesting that career development within counseling should encompass skills for managing diverse client backgrounds.
  • Curriculum Design: O’Brien, Llamas, and Stevens highlight the role of curriculum design in equipping students with the competencies required for effective intercultural interactions in counseling settings.
  • Research Integration: The study suggests that counselling education essays and research should integrate findings on intercultural interactions to enhance the educational experience of postgraduate students.

This insight complies with the findings of the present qualitative study. Students acknowledge the gap in expectations, and they are aware of dissatisfaction it creates; however, overall, they are satisfied with the provided services.

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Other Valuable Studies

Moreover, respondents state that they were prepared to face difficulties before enrolling to the postgraduate program. The interviewed individuals comprehend that there should be the difference in academic environment and learning approaches that are stipulated by the diverse (higher) level of education. This realization implies that students’ self-awareness and coping mechanisms are being advanced simultaneously with their studying. Mainly, they become more professional in self-reflections, which help mastering self-awareness. This expectation of difficulties and the described attitude towards challenges correlate with the study by Hardré and Hackett (2015), who point out that students identify the difficulties they face as the indicators of advanced demands in a postgraduate setting. In this regard, Hardré and Hackett (2015) detected that enrollers would have expected the absence of academic challenges as an indicator of drawbacks in their curriculum. The rationale that resonates with this premise is that addressing difficulties is the way to learn new insights, develop skills, which are positively related to employability, and master personal qualities (Hardré & Hackett, 2015). This supposition complies with testimony of the sample. Observing the reasons why students’ expectations are not justified, it is important to stress that meeting educational needs of postgraduate students is challenged with the expansion of educational establishments (Reddy, Lantz, & Hulme, 2013). The number of enrollers grows annually, thus, scholars struggle to align educational environment with the rapidly changing volumes and diversity of the coming students (Thomas, Day, & Hegarty, 2014). This phenomenon is global. One of the underlying tendencies is that to increase cultural exchange, universities invite students from all over the world. As a result, it becomes harder to foresee all possible expectations/issues and align academic environment accordingly. Moreover, the growing amount of students evokes strong economic considerations linked to providing the proper material base and studying conditions to enrollers (Reddy et al., 2013; Thomas et al., 2014). This premise is aligned with the qualitative data that was revealed by the interviewed students.

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Study by  Australian Universities

To lessen the gap between students’ expectations and actual academic environment, Australian Universities strive to cooperate with various faculties such as government, non-profit organizations, offshore educational establishment, etc. (“Victoria University Course Guide 2016, 2016). Here’s a list reflecting these collaborative efforts:

  • Government Partnerships: Australian universities collaborate with government bodies to align educational policies with student needs, ensuring that the counseling program is responsive to the evolving demands of the profession.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: By working with non-profit organizations, counseling departments gain insights into societal needs, which can inform the development of postgraduate curricula.
  • Offshore Educational Establishments: Partnerships with offshore educational institutions provide a global perspective, enriching the counselling education essay topics and discussions.
  • Multidisciplinary Collaboration: The integration of various faculties within universities fosters a multidisciplinary approach to development in counseling.
  • Research and Innovation: Joint efforts with research institutions contribute to the advancement of counseling programs, keeping them at the forefront of educational innovation.
  • Cultural Exchange Programs: Exchange programs enhance students’ intercultural competencies, a crucial aspect of counseling education.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging with local communities allows counseling programs to remain grounded in real-world experiences, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

This approach is aimed to increase awareness about real expectations of potential enrollers and set clear goals and demands. This strategy is supposed to help mitigating the gap in expectations. In this regard, the findings of the present survey reveal that exploring academic readiness of enrollers and anticipating possible issues is a crucial task to manage the gap between students’ expectations and satisfaction under conditions of expansion of universities and enhanced globalization.

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In conclusion, the journey through counseling education is a tapestry woven with diverse cultural threads, each adding depth and complexity to the student experience. The counseling program, et al., serves as a microcosm of the broader societal interactions, where students and faculty alike navigate the nuances of intercultural communication. Essays and research in counseling education underscore the importance of career development that is attuned to these cultural intricacies. Counseling departments play a pivotal role in shaping this educational landscape, ensuring that the curriculum not only meets but anticipates the needs of a global student body. As postgraduate counseling continues to evolve, it must remain responsive to the ever-changing expectations of its students, preparing them to become adept professionals capable of bridging cultural divides and fostering understanding in an increasingly interconnected world.

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