Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
Publication of a brief on GUIDANCE COUNSELLING at the college level

Guiding students toward educational success: at the college level is the title of a brief recently made public by the president of the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation, Céline Saint-Pierre. The document was launched at an event attended by almost one hundred people at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal on April 10, 2002. The document highlights the importance of academic and vocational guidance as a factor in educational success.

College is perhaps the time when young people have to make the most decisions, in several different areas, and the social changes of recent decades have made their life paths even more complex. This is why the Conseil considered it appropriate to publish a brief on guidance counselling.

The Conseil suggests a change of focus in the way in which guidance is provided to college students, to give them more assistance in finding the right direction and improve their chances of achieving educational success. This will require the establishment of measures to allow students, depending on their degree of vocational maturity, to make, consolidate or change their choices to improve their potential for social and vocational integration.

The Conseil considers that academic guidance should be an important concern for all colleges, many of which have already developed a range of measures for this purpose. However, changes must be made to better respond to the needs of young people today. While recognizing the flexibility currently observed in college-level programs of study, the Conseil highlights other constraints that seem to be inherent in the structure of the education system.

Supporting students in the guidance process by giving them the power to act

The Conseil proposes that academic and vocational guidance should be seen as an educational process centred on the development of each student's personal and vocational identity. The process must leave room for doubt and indecision, and must give students the power to make their own choices, since this power is one of the keys to educational success.

In the brief, the Conseil defines three challenges, namely:

  • less rigid reliance on academic results, to avoid limiting the options available to students
  • better use of the possibilities offered by the curriculum to develop occupational options
  • systemic, institutional responsibility for student guidance counselling services

The Conseil also makes recommendations, some of which relate directly to the organization of first-year courses, given the need to offer more support for first-year students. It recommends that the Minister of Education grant first-year students special status, for example by ensuring that a course that a student fails during the first year, but retakes and passes at a later date, does not count as a "fail" and does not bring down the student's grade average, as is currently the case.

Other recommendations made in the brief concern program changes. The Conseil suggests that colleges should provide personalized guidance for all students considering a change of program. It also proposes that students who change programs after completing the general education component shared by all programs should be given access to an accelerated learning path.

In the view of the Conseil, academic results should no longer be the sole factor considered in the college admission process, especially in technical education. Other ways to assess applications, such as tests, interviews and portfolio appraisals, exist and are already used for some programs. The Conseil considers that, without becoming generalized, they could be more broadly applied.

Getting to know the young people we are trying to help

Last, the Conseil stresses the importance of finding out more about the needs and behaviour patterns of young people today. The wide range of possible life paths must be taken into account in analyzing young people's attitudes to education and their educational behaviour.

Note : The complete document in French, and an abridged English or French version may be consulted on the Web site of the Conseil at the address provided in the sidebar

Document complet (PDF)
Abridged Version (PDF)

Panorama • Volume 7, Number 2 • June 2002


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