"Well my cousin in Canada said that……" or "My friend's son did this…and this happened"… are typical statements often echoed when discussing schools, programs and/or study destinations. . Usually, such stories are shared in hopes of achieving a similar outcome. However, quite often, these stories are relayed with little to no context.
One common scenario is the scholarship story; where persons heard of someone that received multiple scholarships. This blanket statement is provided with little to no supporting story lines. I have often found that there is always more to the story. For example, the student had a different citizenship or residency status making them eligible for more scholarships or the person was an athlete and the scholarships were worked out internally with the school or the scholarships were from different schools and were not full etc. There is always context. This has taught me that people are more attuned to the outcome but never well versed in the process.
I am taken back to a recent video clip of Michelle Obama, while on her book promotion tour, where she talked about the importance of context. We all witnessed Mrs. Obama endure immense scrutiny during her husband's two-term presidency. Many times, her words were misquoted and taken out of context. Even in our own personal lives, I am sure we can think back to a situation where we ourselves were misquoted or our words were taken out of context. It is important to provide a background to stories in order to better understand why a particular outcome occurred.
Context is everything.
As an advisor, I often have to guide persons towards focusing on their own individual situation to establish a basis to work from. This is not always an easy process especially when persons are so focused on that one in a million 'good news' story.
Therefore, before sharing someone else's story, it is important to gather some context: have the answers to the how, when, why, who, what questions. So below are two main questions to consider before deciding whether to share or not share:
- - If Yes, go on to question 2
2. Does the background story mirror your own circumstances?
- If No- then there is no need to share. Focus your efforts on determining your own context.
- If Yes - then there is still no need to share. Focus the time getting your process started.
Your education plans are based on your own circumstances. Yes, it is good to learn from others but sometimes, this can be more counterproductive than constructive. Context is everything!
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