The Wise Choice Process

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

What is the Wise-Choice Process and how can it help you make responsible decisions?

Many students do not understand the relationship of their choices to their success and happiness in life.  They make many decisions, sometimes daily, that negatively affect their lives, such as choosing the wrong class, not registering for classes on time, not doing homework, missing classes, etc.  The Wise-Choice Process encourages students to think through their choices in a manner that promotes a deeper understanding of their own actions and the consequences of their choices.  The Wise-Choice Process can be a powerful decision-making tool and often helps highlight the relationship between choices and consequences in life.  It is an important concept for students to master in college as well as life.  

There are six questions a student needs to answer to effectively address a problem

1.  What’s My Present Situation? (Describe the problem objectively, completely and truthfully.  Since this process is for you, you would only be lying to yourself if you are not truthful.)
2.  How Would I Like My Situation To Be?  (What is your ideal future outcome?  In a perfect world, where would you like to end up?)
3.  Do I Have A Choice Here? (The answer is always “YES”!  You ALWAYS have a choice.)
4.  What Are My Possible Choices? (Create a long list of specific choices that might create your preferred situation.  Think creatively here.  Explore every possible alternative.)
5.  What’s the Likely Outcome of Each Possible Choice? (How do you think each choice is likely to turn out? If you can’t predict, stop and gather more information.)
6.  Which Choice(s) Will You Commit to Doing? (Pick from your list of choices in Step 4.  Remember, committing means giving that choice your all.)

Let’s look at how this works in a real world situation.  For example, say your present situation is that you are enrolled in a class that you do not like, that you feel is too difficult and beyond your capabilities, and that you feel as though you are failing or will fail.

First, objectively describe the situation: Are you really failing?  Have you spoken to the instructor and/or the teaching assistant?  What about the class do you not like? etc.  Clearly define the problem.
Second, ask yourself what would be your optimum end result: “I would like to achieve a passing grade and enjoy the class I am enrolled in.”  Be specific.
Third, ask yourself if you have any possible choices.  Of course you do, there are always choices.  Sometimes you just have to look deeper.
Fourth, list the choices you have: You can drop or withdraw from the class.  You can speak to the instructor and/or the teaching assistant about the situation.  You can visit the Tutor Program for help.  You can make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss the situation.  You could take advice from friends.  Or you could even choose to ignore the problem and push through hoping for the best. The list goes on.
Fifth, now go through the list and imagine the likely outcomes of each scenario: If you drop the class do you have an alternative class to choose from?  Is it too late in the semester to drop? (See our earlier blog on drop and withdrawal dates.)  If you see a tutor is it possible that you may begin to feel better about the class and your progress?  Talking to an advisor may help you think through the process more thoroughly.  If you listen to your friends, is it possible that they may not know what is best for you? Their past experience with a class does not mean that you will have the same experience.  If you choose to ignore the problem and hope for the best will the problem just go away?
Sixth, go through the list and make a choice based on achieving the optimal end result you decided on back in step two.  Remember, not all choices are mutually exclusive.  Sometimes you can do two or more at the same time.

Going through the list of possible outcomes helps you identify the choice that best leads to the outcome you desire.  The Wise-Choice Process is a tool which can help you to uncover your own ability to make productive and wise choices, a skill that will serve you well in college and beyond.