Critical thinking and decision making are part and parcel of our daily lives. In every aspect of our daily lives in terms of experiences, observations, actions and beliefs among others, we come into face to face with a need to employ critical thinking in order to make good and quality decisions. As human beings, the quality of our lives is so much attached to the kind of decisions we make. This is to mean that if anyone happens to make wrong decisions, he or she may not have a good and quality living. In connection to this, if one happens to employ good and quality decisions of life, his or her life would be inevitably good. In this relation, critical thinking and decision making are aspects of life that go hand in hand. Quality decisions in this sense are determined by correct and appropriate application of critical thinking skills (Freeley & Steinberg, 2008, p.2).First and foremost, critical thinking is the discipline of carefully and skillfully making use of information, experience, observation and reasoning as well, in order to guide ones process of decision making, actions and beliefs in the larger perspective (Gibbs& Gambrill, 2009, p.3). It can also be regarded as the logical evaluation of opinions that is based on unequivocal coherent criteria. The criteria involve the identification, evaluation and construction of opinions. Likewise, it involves the use of questions, making of sound judgments and conclusions made on the subject matter. In the process of critical thinking, the thinker is entitled to possess the ability to make deductive reasoning concerning an opinion and again be able to evaluate argument rationality.So to speak, in the process, one should be in a position to ask the right questions in relation to the opinion or the subject matter. Also, the person should be able to realize the incorrect assumptions and scrutinize them in order for the opinion to materialize. In combination with this, having employed critical thinking, the decision can now be made. This means that one is able to come to a conclusion concerning the issue by first of all making an exploration of all alternatives and making a good and valid use of the universal intellectual skills (Hughes & Lavery, 2004, p.107). Intellectual universal standard of skills in this context covers all the best practices and values, which are attached to quality critical thinking skills from a broader point of view. This translates to decision making.
From this point, it is important to note that there are several best practices that are employed in critical thinking and decision making. Best practices in this case can be described as the practices that lead to the application of critical thinking skills leading to the right and quality decisions. On the other hand, our thinking as human beings may turn out to be irrational, illogical and unconstructive. It can also be the kind of thinking whereby the thought process is not evaluative, judgmental and logic. As a consequence, any decision that is made from a point of view of a thinker who is not critical in the thought process, may lead to wrong decisions made. Again, a thinker may be critical but if he or she lacks competence in his or her critical thinking skills, wrong decisions may equally be made (Hughes & Lavery, 2004). The point of focus in this topic concerns the application of critical thinking skills to my decision to pursue a graduate degree. From the above definitions given, critical thinking is quiet an important aspect in the life of anyone in order to arrive at quality decisions. In actual sense, critical thinking skills are prerequisite if any good decision is to be made. Having realized the importance of critical thinking as a skill, I made application of it in the making of the decision to return to school and pursue a graduate degree.
It is essential to point out that being critical is the same as being evaluative (Paul & Elder, 2002). Following this point, I made an evaluation of the returning to school as the first thing. Since being critical ranges from negative to positive aspects, I closely examined the advantages and disadvantages of returning to school. I asked questions like, "Would I benefit by returning to school? How much will it cost psychologically, socially, financially and such like aspects of life? These make some of the questions that led to my returning to school and pursue a graduate degree. In connection to this, I made an evaluation of the assumptions that I made concerning my return school. As such, I made the assumption that if it happens that I have enough finances and the fact that my age is not a problem, then, I can proceed and pursue this graduate degree. Although, I felt that there was need to return to school, I considered another yet important part of my decision to return to school and in particular the kind of a degree that I would pursue. I evaluated the type of the degree, its advantages and disadvantages, the value it has in relation to others and the assumptions made. I managed to make use of such questions as how much value that is attached to the degree, its competence in the market and the risks associated. From a greater number of alternatives, I weighed out the drawbacks and rewards associated. By so doing, I was able to make the inference that the rewards attached to the degree am pursuing far much outweigh the drawbacks (Paul & Elder, 2002). This is to mean that I discovered from my analysis of facts and universal intellectual values that by choosing to pursue the degree that am pursuing, I would be inclined to more benefits as compared to the losses. This led to my decision to pursue the current graduate degree have chosen.The essence of critical thinking can well be described as logic. This is to mean that it has a logical evaluation basis. As it has been described above, critical thinking skill is the characteristic of being able to reason and reflect in decision process regarding what to do or rather believe. In a fundamental nature, critical thinking entails being inquisitive concerning an argument, making sound judgments and identification of the assumptions made and finally coming to a conclusion. Accordingly, there are best practices that are employed in critical thinking and making decisions. Such like practices comprise of logical evaluation by use of questions, use of quality checks and reality checks for good judgments and validity of an argument or an issue (Hughes & Lavery, 2004). There are both best and worst practices in critical and decision making. The worst practices result to wrong decisions since they are based on the wrong and irrational critical thinking.While the worst practices lead to wrong decisions, the best practices lead to quality decisions which are realized through critical thinking skills. Taking the example of my decision to return to school and pursue a graduate degree, I applied the critical thinking skills that led to my decision to pursue the degree. This decision was arrived at by means a criterion in the sense that I was able to address the possible questions that would eliminate any shortcomings, the assessment of the options, sound judgment and assumptions made. Having explored all alternatives and premises I was in a position to make the decision to pursue the degree of my choice. Altogether, critical thinking skills are the core values of good and quality decisions. They incorporate the clarity, relevance and the accuracy of the information.