If you haven’t already read this article from Education Week, I suggest that you do so. It was concerning to us here at Campus Bound and Apply Right, and we wanted to take this opportunity, in this blog, to respond to it.
The take-away from the article, and from this recent study from the National Association of College Admission Counselors, is that only a third of the public high schools in the United States have a college counselor, or designated counselor, to help them with post-high school educational goals. Even more concerning is that the likeliness of a school having a college counselor goes down as the poverty rate of the high school students goes up. So even fewer middle to lower class students are getting this kind of support.
In Massachusetts, we are fortunate that our high school counselor-student ratio is a bit lower than the national average, which is 268-1, but it’s still very high. The “best” public schools around here are at around 200-1. And the role of a school counselor is constantly evolving, and counselors are taking on many non-counseling duties. All that being said, when counselors have assigned tasks from administrators, are responsible for the handling of urgent, crisis situations, and so on, it’s no wonder that students aren’t getting the college counseling they need.
I, myself, was a School Counselor for ten years before coming to work at Campus Bound. Many of the staff at Apply Right and Campus Bound have worked in the school setting. There are certain things I miss about it, but I was stretched too thin. I was expected to be an expert on everything… mental health, child development, course selection, crisis management, school policy, discipline, etc. I was expected to be available at all times to help students, teachers and administrators with pretty much anything they needed. And as I look back now, I realize that the work I did with students around the college process was limited. I certainly wanted to help them, but I just had “more important,” or urgent, things to get to.
When I started working as a counselor at Campus Bound four years ago, it was such a relief to be able to specialize in one area. I could still help teens, but in a really specific and deep way, rather than doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
It’s a sad reality that school counselors are overburdened and that oftentimes college counseling goes by the wayside. We feel fortunate that we can help students and families navigate what can be a tedious and stressful process.