It is no longer news that some courses in the University are now useless considering the changes in society and how fast technology is advancing.
I was surprised when one of my cousins told me they were being taught shorthand and typewriting in a higher institution. (I think she studied Office Technology Management.) For God’s sake, who uses a typewriter in 2022? And that is just one of several useless pieces of knowledge people acquire in the name of University education.
In this article, I will be exploring Guidance and Counselling so you can see if it’s worth studying in Nigeria. I actually studied guidance and counselling so I’ll be giving you an insider review.
What is the Guidance and Counselling course all about?
Okay, a counsellor is basically one who helps clients understand themselves and the world around them better so they can make more informed decisions about their lives.
For instance, if a person is unsure about which career to choose, what I do as a career counsellor is to help them understand their potential, personality, limitations and resources, and then present to them the opportunities that exist based on their unique situation, then guide them towards entering and progressing in that career.
Counsellors are not advice givers— we don’t tell you what to do with your life— we simply help you see the choices that are before you and the consequences of each and then, assist you in making the decisions you agree is best for you.
Another example, while I don’t like divorce, if a couple comes to me for marriage counselling and they are convinced they want a divorce, I can only help them see how their marriage can work and the negative consequences of divorce on their lives and that of their children, but I won’t tell them not to divorce.
If after my enlightenment and interventions, they still want a divorce, I will guide them on how best to do it to reduce the impact it would have on them. So you see that counsellors don’t give advice or tell people what to do. They are simply guides.
What are the benefits of the guidance and counselling course?
1. Ease of study and admission
This is probably the most obvious advantage of studying Guidance and Counselling. It is a complete walkover course. Firstly, because there are not so many people applying for the course, getting admission is 90% sure if you apply for it. See how to become a counsellor here.
Secondly, the subjects being taught are practical and real life issues that you see everyday so even if the lecturers do not spend time teaching and explaining, you can simply read materials and have straight A’s
I’m not a genius but in more than 70% of my Guidance and Counselling courses, I had A’s. The least I got was a C. Yet I didn’t spend the whole of my life reading. Only a few courses are not practical real life issues like Quantitative Analysis (teaching you how to write a project— it’s pure calculations), then the histories and theories of counselling.
It can also become challenging if your University asks you to do a minor course. My minor course was Plant Biology (disaster!). I only got an A and a B once each. The rest were C and D.
2. Good prospects and emerging market
The second benefit of studying guidance and counselling in Nigeria is that the course has good prospects. I have covered the prospects of guidance and counselling in Nigeria in detail in another article but let me just highlight it here.
Unlike Medicine that has been an established profession for years, Guidance and Counselling is still an emerging profession. Not so much ground breaking things have been done; many sectors have but fully embraced counselling and others still see it as useless.
While many people see this as a challenge (more on that later), I actually see it as an advantage because there are still many opportunities you can explore that people have not taken advantage of. If you become very skillful and can market yourself very well— making people see how you can actually change their lives and organisations, you will have literally no competition.
3. Opportunity for private practice
This is a continuation of the previous point. Guidance and Counselling is not a course like Banking where starting your own bank is impossible for someone new in the field. Once you get the skills and certification, you can choose not to work for anybody and build your own empire and you will face zero opposition.
There is no bureaucracy or bottlenecks monitoring or limiting your activities. You should not see this as an opportunity to give unethical service and go Scott free— you will be caught. Instead, you should see it as giving you the freedom to scale your business very fast. I have listed 10 easy ways you can make money as a private counsellor here.
4. Personal life upgrade
Another upside to studying guidance and counselling in Nigeria is the fact that what you are learning will benefit and improve your life as a person. It’s not like Mechanical Engineering where you are simply learning about machines. With guidance and counselling you are learning how to make lives better and that includes your own life.
For me, among the many skills I learnt, my favourite is active listening. It has positively affected my relationships. My friends keep reiterating the fact that they enjoy talking to me because they know I will give them rapt attention. Thanks to Guidance and Counselling.
But this can only happen when you are truly open to learning the course and acquiring the skills. If you just want the certificate, you can graduate with first class without your life changing. Remember I told you it’s very easy. But to get this advantage, you should go beyond getting good grades to acquiring and practising the skills you are being taught.
5. Interesting field experience
Studying Guidance and Counselling also gives you opportunities to see what people are going through in real life. One of the courses you will take is Practicum. Firstly, you will visit a real life location where counselling is needed or offered.
My group visited a Correctional Centre (prison for children) and it was amazing. It was another world different from what I was used to. Other groups visited School of the Deaf, School for Mentally Retarded Children and so on.
Secondly, you will do another Practicum where you will be asked to counsel people in real life and you will be scored for it. It is not always effective but the experience is quite exciting.
Also, because Guidance and Counselling is under the Faculty of Education in most universities in Nigeria, you also have to be part of the teaching practice exercise for all Education students. That is another exciting real world experience.
Disadvantages of studying guidance and counselling in Nigeria
Although I have listed the advantages of studying Guidance and Counselling in Nigeria, it is not all sweet. There are still some drawbacks to the course
1. No practical teachings
This looks contradictory after I have just spoken about the real life experiences you will get if you study guidance and counselling but it is true. There are structures to make the course practical but the course is still not practical enough. I have explained this and 9 other problems facing Guidance and Counselling in Nigeria here.
Just like everything in Nigeria, we have the structures and policies but there is no effective implementation. You will be surprised that if you ask over 70% of graduates of Guidance and Counselling, they will tell you they cannot practice because they aren’t skilled enough. If you wait on the school to give you the skills you won’t get it. You have to scout for the skills by yourself through private and personal learning.
2. No ready market yet
I spoke about the fact that Guidance and Counselling is an emerging market. It is both good news and bad news. It is good news to those who will take advantage of the many opportunities and win the prize of early adoption. But it is bad news if you just want a done-for-you success.
There are no available jobs in Nigeria begging for counsellors to come but there are available and high-paying jobs for counsellors who are very skilled and ready to advocate and even much more for counsellors who are ready to create jobs for themselves. You have to join the fight. So?
Is Guidance and Counselling a good course in Nigeria?
Yes, guidance and counselling is a good course in Nigeria because Nigerians are beginning to open up to the need of professional counsellors and therapists in helping them navigate day-to-day challenges, especially mental health issues. This in turn means many more corporations will begin to hire competent counsellors to improve their work environment.
While the profession of Guidance and Counselling is a good one, the curriculum of study in the University is not enough to train counsellors with the needed competence for society. Graduates of guidance and counselling therefore need to take private courses to enhance their competencies.
Here are some cheap yet effective courses you can take to become a better counsellor:
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.