Educational planning is a process in which each college student is involved in self-assessment, exploring, and integrating academic and career alternatives, and making decisions that are personally relevant for the present and the future. Educational planning involves many important tasks that eventually incorporate a set of shortterm and long-term goals. Certain conditions must be present before an educational plan can be of optimal value:
• Students need a personal commitment and involvement in formulating a plan. If the plan is initiated by them and has relevance for them, it will provide a blueprint for an important period in their lives and have profound influence on their future. They will also take responsibility for its outcomes.
• Students must be aware of the need for flexibility in carrying out any plan. Nothing remains static, and plans may need to be altered as new information or events indicate a change is desirable or necessary.
• Students should be able to articulate their reasons for being in college and how the degree fits into their career and life goals.
Advisor Responsibility in the Planning Process
Advisors can play a key role in helping students initiate and monitor an educational plan. The responsibilities of the advisors and students need to be negotiated very early in the relationship. Advisors often see themselves primarily as information givers. Much more is expected and needed by the student however. Advisors can provide a mature, experienced opinion in many aspects of the planning. Advisors can also act as sounding boards for ideas as the student progresses through each step of the process. Advisors can create an open, friendly climate so that students feel free to share ideas and dreams. Students need to feel that someone has a personal interest in their present struggles and their future. It is the student's responsibility to actually make decisions so that they feel a sense of personal ownership of the plan once it is formulated. Students sometimes need to be reminded that they will live with the plan and will need to take responsibility for modifying or changing it when needed. They will know, however, that there are always supportive people around to listen, to question, and to suggest ideas, as well as to congratulate them on a job well done.