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In My Own Defense

Purpose: Often, after students have made a choice, they return to meet with an advisor due to doubt because of the reactions of a significant other in their lives. This may be reactions from a parent, sibling, friend, or roommate. It is important if this occurs not to diminish the importance of others' opinions. Others may react negatively or positively for a variety of reasons. Understanding the reasoning behind your choices helps you to prepare for a variety of reactions. More importantly, this process of development of explanations is truly not a defense strategy, but a personal confirmation strategy. This activity can be extremely valuable in making meaning of information and understanding how you feel about your options/choices.

As a result of this activity you will be able to:

  • Clearly articulate the reasons for your choice.
  • Discuss your choice in various terms of importance.
  • Practice responding to the questions of others.


  1. Explore whose opinion you value and make a list of a few people to center this activity on. These can be general and not specific if necessary (i.e. future roommate, dating partner, relative at a family reunion).
  2. The purpose of this activity is not to prepare to respond to others, but to test how their responses feel and make sense to you.
  3. Create an outline for notes about the reactions from the different people.
  4. Prepare a “defense strategy” regarding your choices before reacting to questions from the other person.
  5. React to the question/reaction of the person.
  6. Write your responses and share them with your advisor.

Sample Outlines (Be creative)

Person: Roommate

  • Topic: Careers/Job Options
  • Reaction: That sounds like a great choice! What do you hope to do with it?

Person: Father

  • Topic: Difficulty of Major
  • Reaction: Are you sure you can handle this major? You haven’t been doing so well in school.

Person: Aunt

  • Topic: Future Possibilities
  • Reaction: You know your cousin wanted to do that and it never worked out.

Person: Sister who is an Accountant

  • Topic: General Reaction to Liberal Arts
  • Reaction: Oh that sounds wonderful…I wish I had been brave enough to major in that.

Note: Focus this activity on the experience of hearing the talk about your choice. If you are aware of a possible negative reaction from someone you can use this as a preparation activity.