Explore the Role of Cultures in Influencing the Dynamics of Counseling among the First Years in Institutions of Higher Learning. The Case of 2012-2014 Freshmen Study in Two Former Black Universities
AbstractDespite the abundance of counseling centres in most higher education institutions as a strategy to assist students who are experiencing social-psychological problems that inhibit their learning and retention, there seem to be concern that most of the students do not make use of this service. The aim of the study was to seek the role of culture in influencing students’ consumption of counseling services. The study adopted mixed methods design employing qualitative and qualitative approaches. Specifically the study used a case study design and mini survey. However the qualitative approach was more dominant. An interview guide and a questionnaire as research instruments were also used. Document analysis, focus group discussions and interviews gathered qualitative data while a questionnaire was used to gather quantitative data. The sample consisted of 220 conveniently sampled first year students drawn from two former black Universities. These students were largely coming from rural and semi-urban parts of South Africa. Findings indicate that culture was more influential to students’ dispositions to use counseling services. It emerged that more than half of the first year students who participated in the study had not used counselling services even though they were aware of its existence. Reasons for non use included stigma from fellow students who associated counseling with failure for one to solve their own problems. Also viewed from African cultural lenses, students felt that counselors were not members of the clan or immediate family for one to share their problems. These findings therefore support the view that African traditional cultures may not adequately fit into the western centric counseling counseling services. The paper recommends that counselling co-ordinators strengthen their marketing of counselling services to allay the fears and distrust students have. Also culturally sensitive counselling procedures may be required to build confidence among those students who make use of the services.
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