Just how prepared are high school counselors to do their jobs?
The College Board has released a new report that suggests that counselors don’t believe they received adequate training to perform their jobs at the level they would like.
I am mentioning this study because it focuses on an area that I feel passionately about. Many high school counselors are failing their students because they aren’t providing families with the type of information that they desperately need to help them find colleges that are both academic and financial fits.
I believe that the vast majority of high school counselors don’t understand how families can make college more affordable even though this is often the second biggest expense that families face. This dreadful state of affairs is a national scandal.
Here is an excerpt from the College Board study that illustrates that counselors are frustrated at being able to do their job:
Dropping the Ball
Countless parents have told me how disappointed they have been at the lack of meaningful college advice that hey have gotten from their high school counselors. The overwhelming negative feedback that I’ve received coincides with a report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that noted that 67% of Americans who were surveyed, ages 22 to 30, concluded that their counselors did a fair or poor job of helping them with their college choices.
The survey responses, the report noted, “suggests that the existing high school guidance system is a perilously weak part of the nation’s efforts to increase college attendance and ramp up degree completion.”
Blame the Grad Schools
Why aren’t counselors being properly trained?
Considerable blame can be dumped on the hundreds of graduate schools of education in this country. To work in public schools, most counselors must earn a master’ degree in counseling, but these grad programs rarely offer even a single class in college planning. Instead the coursework focuses on such issues as mental health and careers. Careers but not college planning? Really, I’m not making this up!
Counseling master’s degree programs ignore college issues that high school counselors need to know. I’m not just talking about all the financial topics that families must face with their college-bound teenagers. These hidebound programs also don’t touch upon other issues of critical importance such as evaluating schools academically. If you asked many high school counselors what are the differences between a college and a university, I bet they’d be stumped!
Here’s what surveyed counselors told the College Board:
Whenever I have written a post on this subject, I have heard from counselors who complain that not all counselors are deficient in this area. I agree. There are some amazing counselors in this country, but unfortunately they have to train themselves. And most counselors aren’t bothering to do this.
What parents and teenagers need to know is that many of them will be on their own as they navigate their college options. Families need to empower themselves so that they can make their own informed college decisions.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of the second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.