Dr. Samuel Said, Founder and CEO, Galilean Counseling Nonprofit Corporation

Dr. Samuel Said, an expert in personal development and leadership coaching, possesses 20 years of experience in education, theology, and counseling. He holds advanced degrees, including an Ed.D. in educational leadership and two Ph.Ds. in Theology and Temperament Counseling. Said’s approach combines scientific insights and practical wisdom, emphasizing temperament understanding for personal and professional success. An esteemed author, his work focuses on temperament theory’s applications in psychological well-being and leadership. Samuel champions the creation of supportive communities, aiming to empower individuals to leverage their strengths and achieve fulfillment. Additionally, he is an FAA-licensed drone pilot and enjoys outdoor activities.


Self-deception often finds its roots in the formative years of childhood. When families, friends, and society impose their expectations on a child, it can disrupt natural growth. This imposition often forces children to conform to predetermined roles or ideals, which may not align with their true selves. In trying to meet these external expectations, children may start to deny their true selves, leading to self-deception.

Children naturally explore, question, and form their identities as they grow and develop. However, when significant people in their lives, whether parents, teachers, or peers, have strong opinions about who they should be, it can create a conflict between their internal inclinations and external pressures. Over time, this conflict can lead to a habit of self-deception, where individuals ignore or deny their thoughts and feelings to fit into the molds created for them.

Self-deception carries into adulthood, affecting personal and professional relationships, self-esteem, and the ability to make authentic choices. Recognizing and addressing this self-deception is crucial for business leaders and individuals in positions of influence. It is important to foster environments where people feel safe expressing their true selves without fear of judgment or reprisal.

As students enter the advisory process, they often carry their aspirations and the heavy weight of expectations placed upon them by others. This situation underlines the critical role that college advisors play in guiding students toward self-discovery and authentic decision-making.

When students are pressured to pursue paths aligned with someone else’s desires, especially those of their parents, it can lead to a misalignment between their educational journey and true interests. This misalignment often results in decreased motivation, lower academic performance, and, in some cases, serious mental health challenges. The term “helicopter moms” aptly captures the overbearing nature of some parental involvement, which, while well-intentioned, can stifle the student’s ability to develop independence and self-awareness.

Your role as an educator and advisor becomes essential in navigating these complex dynamics. Engaging in deep discussions with students provides a safe space for them to express their true desires and reconsider their educational and career paths. This guidance helps align their academic pursuits with their genuine interests and empowers them to take ownership of their futures.

However, the challenge of scale mentioned is significant. The sheer number of students requiring personalized advisement can strain the capacity of advisors to provide the in-depth, individualized attention each student deserves. This dilemma highlights the need for systemic changes within educational institutions to ensure that advisory roles have the necessary resources and support. Improving advisor-to-student ratios, integrating peer mentoring programs, and developing comprehensive career exploration resources can alleviate some burdens and enhance the advisory process.

The college advisor’s role is pivotal in fostering an environment where students can pursue their authentic desires and potential. Addressing the challenges of scale and resource allocation is crucial to ensure that each student receives the guidance necessary to navigate their educational and career paths effectively.

Self-deception in the context of student pathways profoundly impacts retention and graduation rates. When students enroll in courses or pursue career paths misaligned with their true interests and desires, it can lead to a lack of engagement, lower academic performance, and increased dissatisfaction with their educational experience. This misalignment is often a consequence of self-deception, either self-imposed or influenced by external pressures, such as family expectations or societal norms.

The dissonance between a student’s authentic self and the persona they adopt to satisfy external expectations can result in a diminished sense of belonging and commitment to their studies. Students not genuinely interested in their chosen field are more likely to struggle with motivation, leading to procrastination, poor academic performance, and a higher likelihood of dropping out. This lack of genuine engagement and satisfaction can undermine their educational journey, leading to a cycle of doubt and confusion about their future.

Moreover, the pressure to conform to external expectations can exacerbate stress and anxiety, contributing to mental health challenges that further impede a student’s ability to succeed academically. The stress of living incongruently with one’s true interests and desires can sap the energy and focus necessary for academic success.

To counteract these challenges, educational institutions must implement supportive measures encouraging students to explore their true interests and align their academic and career paths accordingly. This involves creating a nurturing environment where students feel safe expressing their doubts, fears, and aspirations. Advisors and counselors play a crucial role in this process, providing the necessary guidance and support to help students navigate their options and make informed decisions that reflect their genuine interests and talents.

Enhancing retention and graduation rates requires a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of self-deception and misalignment in student pathways. By fostering an educational culture that values authenticity, self-exploration, and personalized guidance, institutions can empower students to embark on paths that lead to academic and career success and personal fulfillment and well-being.

Breaking the cycle of self-deception for students and guiding them towards fulfilling and promising futures is a multifaceted challenge, particularly in the face of parental pressure and societal expectations. Here are some strategies that could be employed to address this issue effectively:

Individualized Advisement: Allocate one-on-one advisement sessions to understand each student’s interests, strengths, and aspirations. This personal approach helps uncover the student’s genuine desires and can lead to more suitable academic and career pathways.

Educational Workshops for Parents: Organize workshops to educate parents about the importance of nurturing their child’s interests and talents. These workshops can highlight how personal fulfillment and success are closely tied to pursuing a career that aligns with one’s passions and abilities.

Career Exploration Programs: Implement programs that allow students to explore various career paths through internships, shadowing experiences, or guest lectures from professionals in different fields. This exposure can help students make informed decisions based on their interests and experiences rather than external pressures.

Student-Centered Education Policies: Advocate for and implement policies prioritizing student choice and flexibility in curriculum design. This can empower students to tailor their educational journey to their interests and career goals.

Counseling and Support Services: Strengthen counseling and mental health support services within educational institutions to help students navigate personal and career-related challenges. Providing access to counseling can assist students in understanding and overcoming the root causes of their self-deception.

Faculty and Staff Training: Train faculty and staff to recognize signs of student distress related to career and academic pressure. They should be equipped to provide initial guidance and refer students to appropriate counseling and advisement services.

Peer Mentoring Programs: Establish peer mentoring programs where upperclassmen can share their experiences and guide younger students in making informed decisions about their academic and career paths.

Regular Assessment and Feedback: Implement a system of regular assessment and feedback for students, allowing them to reflect on their interests and goals periodically and make necessary adjustments to their academic and career plans.

By addressing the issue from multiple angles and involving various stakeholders (students, parents, educators, and counselors), educational institutions can play a pivotal role in helping students navigate their paths without falling into the trap of self-deception. This comprehensive approach not only aids in personal development but also produces well-prepared graduates excited about their futures.

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