Phew. One year of graduate school complete! It’s hard to believe that just one year ago I moved to Buffalo to begin this journey through my Master’s degree. Throughout my year at Canisius I have heard many phrases about the School Counseling/Mental Health program that could not be more true.

1) “Be professional. Be who you are becoming”

This may seem like a no-brainer, but how do most undergraduate students dress? Many show up in sweatpants or pajamas, right? Would YOU want to go to a counseling session in an agency or school and have your counselor wearing sweatpants? I know I wouldn’t. By dressing (and acting) professionally and confidently, you send off a vibe about yourself. Not only do YOU feel better about yourself, but OTHERS feel better. Isn’t that the job of a counselor?

2) “It’s not all about your GPA.”

In undergrad, it was all about getting that 3.5 or higher to make dean’s list. In graduate school, there isn’t a dean’s list. While meeting the GPA requirements of the program is important, it shouldn’t be your main focus. When you don’t get an A on that paper, don’t fret. Ask yourself, did you learn from the mistakes you made? That’s what graduate school is all about. Learning.

3) “You learn more about yourself through this program.”

In the School Counseling/Mental Health program, students are constantly being asked to reflect and share personal stories with their colleagues and explore their life struggles. Last semester, while taking Group Counseling, I was required to participate in group counseling with my peers, as well as attend two support group meetings within the community. These types of activities made me think about what I will be asking my students to do every day. I am asking them to be vulnerable to explore their struggles and grow. It’s important to know how you react to certain situations and topics such as trauma, death, and abuse. If you can be aware of yourself, you can grow in these areas to be a better helper.