School Counselors Increasingly Are Missing Link in Getting Kids to College

Campbell High School counselor Jamie Ryder’s determined cheer interrupts the half-asleep, early morning silence of a dozen ninth-graders crammed into a small classroom as she launches into a 90-minute talk about the future, with a focus on careers and college.

The challenges facing Ryder soon become clear. When she asks about her students’ goals, one hand goes up. Then a low voice in the back of the room wisecracks, “Be a drug dealer.” A while later, when the students are told to sit at computers and go through a questionnaire to help determine what courses of studies and careers would be good fits for them, several struggle with the words on the screen, English still foreign to them.

In spite of all these warning signs, Ryder’s caseload and those of her colleagues are so big that this may be the only time for at least a year that many of these students will ever see her or any other counselor. The best she can do is reach out each fall to Campbell’s 800 first-year students in groups like these, to try to give them an idea of what life might be like beyond their early teens. <Read more.>

Via Timothy Pratt, The Hechinger Report.

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2 thoughts on “School Counselors Increasingly Are Missing Link in Getting Kids to College

  1. I’ve always favored the idea of high school counselors providing career guidance to young adults. But, the premise that counselors are always good or always right is just not true.

    In my own experience, my high school counselor told me point blank that I should not go to college; I would not be successful. I apparently tested poorly, and I was not the most studious teenager. She suggested I get a job.

    Bring a late boomer, I pursued college 3 years after high school; graduated with honors and eventually got a Masters degree. The counselor was dead wrong about me, and I knew it.

    I don’t think the answer lies with counselors; overworked or otherwise. I applaud them for opening minds and providing new alternatives to unaware teenagers. But, a hs guidance counselor who may be ineffective doesn’t necssesarily have a negative impact. Given my own experience, I would have been better off if I’d never talked to one.

  2. My guess would be that your counselor did not have opportunity or perhaps inclination to get to know the students s/he was counseling. Without regular meetings with students and their teachers, all they have to go by are test scores and we know how inaccurate a single score can be. As I read the article I was mildly surprised to learn that in California the ratio of counselor to students is 1:500. That is an impossible number to work with. I say mildly surprised because I have seen the challenge of counselors firsthand. A similar problem exists when students begin attending college courses and don’t have a clue what their goals are or which direction to begin, because they did not receive proper guidance in high school. I know when my daughter began taking courses at the community college I went with her to a meeting with her advisor before enrolling for courses. I was shocked at what little advice he was able to provide. He did not take time to get to know her at all. He had no idea what kind of a student/learner she was nor did he have any idea about what interests her. He looked at a cum folder and gave what appeared to be a canned response. Fortunately, I have experience in K-16 education and so with a catalog and some dialogue I was able to get her started. As Pratt points out, many immigrants and nonwhites have little experience with the education system and so are unable to help their students. These families rely on the school system to not only educate their children, but to properly guide them toward a future beyond high school. There is a challenge here and I don’t see it going away any time soon.

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