Suggestion 9: Personalize your recommendations to the needs and interests of the student.

This series of posts has suggested a variety of extra-curricular activities you can mention to your students.

But no single set of recommendations serves the needs of every student.  Indeed, the extra-curricular needs of a student completing a bachelor’s degree in adult education will substantially differ from the extra-curricular needs of a student completing a doctorate in Human Resource Development.

So make sure you tailor advice to the needs of students.

To help in doing so, consider these issues:

  • Before making recommendations to the student, take a few moments to find out about the student’s long-term career goals (especially entering students, whose needs and interests you have probably not yet had an opportunity to learn).  In some instances, students have well-defined career goals.  In most, however, students often have just a vague notion of what they plan to do when they graduate, and the possibilities available with their degree.  For many students, the discussion of extra-curricular activities opens a more fundamental conversation of career planning.  Suggest the options available and, for those who need time to consider how they would like to proceed, suggest ways of learning more about the possibilities.
  • Also learn about the student’s available time.  Many students in our field work and have family commitments, even when technically enrolled as full-time students.  Extra-curricular activities require time commitments beyond that needed for class.  Make sure that the suggestions offered work within the time constraints students have.  (The same advice also applies to financial constraints.)
  • Offer suggestions that match students’ interests, available time and finances, and long-term career goals.
  • Model the behavior yourself.  The more you get involved in other extra-curricular activities, the more familiarity you have with the options and the likelihood that a particular suggestion might meet a particular student’s needs.

Tip: To learn more about supporting informal learning, check Chapter 4 of the new book, Informal Learning Basics from ASTD Press.

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