School counselors foster academic, social, and life skills in students, which translate to academic and vocational success. They are also responsible for maintaining a student’s records in accordance with academic policies and regulations.
- Helping students realize their professional and personal goal
- Playing an important part in the positive development of a young person
Typical seasonal calendar
- January: start preparing for the incoming school year, reviewing transcripts, identifying and addressing the needs of students who are deficient in credits, tracking student course requests to produce a master schedule offering the most requested classes for the next year
- August: opening the school, meeting students and parents, making sure course requests match students’ academic aptitudes and graduation/college requirements
On a typical day:
- Meetings with students/parents/teachers to advocate for the needs of the student
- School counselors may also need to sit in administrative meetings and develop policies that promote equality and inclusion, supporting students’ ability to access rigorous curriculum
- Regularly attend professional development training to be updated on current state and national standards
- College entrance is a huge responsibility- students who want to enter a four-year college begin planning as early as 9th grade
- Addressing every students’ individual goals; not every student wants to go to a 4-year college, some just want to work.
- Written and oral communication
- Interpersonal skills
- Social perceptiveness/empathy
- Creative problem-solving
- Critical thinking
- Microsoft Outlook, Access, Excel, PowerPoint
- Private schools, public schools, charter schools
- Private schools offer lower salary and job security in general
- Charter schools offer more flexibility in terms of salary, but job security is weak
- Department of Education/Board of Education
- Non-profit organizations
Late hours in the beginning as a school counselor learns to balance and organize demands made by the many parties they mediate.
While the role of a school counselor has always been focused on college access, they are now expected to help students develop career readiness.
More school counselors encouraging students to pursue college majors that are going to give them a return on investment once they graduate. To this end, they are increasingly expected to pay attention to the news and monitor trends in the economy and job market.
Sample sources of news: news reports, NPR, economic outlook journals
- Many had a significant experience with a counselor during their schooling years (whether positive or negative) that they seek to address through their career choice.
- Volunteer work related to a passion for social and economic equality and justice.
- Bachelor’s Degree (recommended majors: psychology, social work, education, counseling)
- Master’s Degree in School Counseling or a related field (e.g. education psychology)
- Public school counselors require a state-issued certification
- Some states require 1-2 years work experience as a teacher
- Master’s program should focus on teaching counselors how to interpret and use data, since school counseling programs are increasingly data and leadership-driven.
- If student data states that English learners receive more Ds and Fs than any other subgroups on campus… your counseling program should address this specific need.
- Universities should also offer internship/partner opportunities.
- Consider if the Master’s program you enroll in teaches the official ASCA model of school counseling. This model is preferable because it is very leadership focused and encourages counselors to question policies and make sure they support equality and access for students, rather than passively accepting them.
- Ask your school counselor to mentor you, and maybe even work alongside them as a teacher’s assistant so you can see what that job looks like day-to-day.
- Volunteering to tutor other students or to be a mentor to younger peers.
- Construct a portfolio showcasing the highlights of your school counseling achievements in terms of data.
- E.g. If you were an intern at a school and ran an attendance group, demonstrate that your group increased attendance by a certain percentage.
- Keep up to date on terminology and what’s current in the field.
- At some point, you will have to answer the question “Why do you want to be a school counselor?” Be specific with your answer. Explain how you intend to encourage leadership in students/support data-driven programs/promote equality and inclusion in schools.
- Have a firm understanding of diversity studies (through reading or college courses).
- Look for job postings on edjoin.org.
- Network with professors who may give you letters of recommendation or leads on available positions.
- If you have a good internship, make a good impression and network through them for job positions.
- Subscribe to trade publications and stay current on worldwide, local trends that influence education and student welfare
- Increase visibility of yourself and the profession by positioning yourself on various school sites and district committees such as School Leadership Teams, School Site Council
- Take advantage of opportunities to volunteer with organizations that support educational and professional school counseling
- Become a member and attend annual conferences with the following organizations
- American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
- National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
- Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC)
- Continuous reading and re-education
- Keeping up with self care: don’t exhaust yourself so you can sustain the energy required to motivate students
- Developing creative and inventive ways to engage students
- Gaining experience in program development and planning (e.g. hosting a large student event centered on college access or career readiness)
- Knowing how to engage adults you work with (e.g. the principal), and serve as an advocate and mediator for many parties (teachers, the school board, students, yourself)
- Social skills and organization are key
- American School Counselor Association website
- Official state school counselor association website
- College Board (to monitor trends relating to the SAT, ACT, etc.)
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paolo Freire
- Privilege, by Shamus Khan
- Advise education policymakers at the state or federal level.
- Work at a university (although this requires a PhD).
- Become principal of a school.