2018 National School Counseling WeekTM, “School Counselors: Helping Students Reach for the Stars,” which is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, will be celebrated February 5 through 9, 2018, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. 2018 National School Counseling WeekTM highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
National School Counseling Week is always celebrated the first full week in February, which is nice because many high school-based counselors who help students with post-secondary guidance would not have time to celebrate if this celebratory week occurred any time between August and January, as college application season sort of dominates the lives of many high school-based counselors who help their student with post-secondary planning. Yet, there really isn’t ever a slow period for high school-based counselors at American public schools, as these counselors are often asked to provide social emotional counseling and college counseling to students in their caseloads and each of these unique and important roles are full time jobs in their own right.
As our focus here at Admissions Intel is on the undergraduate college admissions process, we would like to celebrate all high school-based counselors – whether they work at U.S. public schools, private schools, or international schools. The best gift, however, that we could give high school counselors who support students during the college admissions and post-secondary planning process, would be a commitment on the part of school systems and school leaders to reduce student to counselor ratios in order to ensure students get the personalized post-secondary counseling support that they need and deserve throughout their high school experiences in order to help students navigate their journey into adulthood.
Many private school counselors feel overwhelmed by 50 to 1 high school senior to counselor ratios; yet, counselors in public schools often have 300 or 500 to 1 high school senior to counselor ratios! Having helped students transition from high school to the world beyond for thirteen years, I believe that all of these ratios are completely out of whack. To truly personalize the post-secondary counseling process for high school students, high schools that have their post-secondary counselors work with students over all four years of students’ high school careers should have counselor to student ratios of 33 to 1 per grade, totaling 132 students (split evenly between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors) to 1 counselor overall – or 33 students to 1 counselor per grade/class.
Such a ratio would allow all high school counselors who are tasked with supporting students transition from high school to the post-secondary world develop strong four-year relationships with their students over students’ high school careers. It would also permit counselors to devote the time and attention necessary to help students transition most successfully from high school into their best-fit post-secondary environments.
Would it cost schools and school districts a lot of money they are not currently devoting to post-secondary counseling? Yes; yet, it’s an investment worth making if the school or school district is serious about providing post-secondary counseling that is personalized and best positioned to help students fully weigh their options and meet their post-secondary potential.