In the contemporary academic environment, school counselors do much more than send transcripts and distribute pamphlets. As per the ASCA or American School Counselor Association, school counselors deal with the varied developmental requirements of students while implementing programs that target their overall academic success.
Also called guidance counselors, these professionals play a multifaceted role based on the requirements of both individual and state schools. Some schools even have full-time counselors on staff to intervene in their students’ physical, mental, and behavioral health challenges.
Although a 2020 study by Popov and Spasenovic shows that the role of a school counselor may differ as per requirement, the key elements are as follows:
1. Academic Support and Counseling
School counselors have a far-reaching impact on a student’s academic success, hence the significance of prioritizing student-counselor relationships.
The more a school counselor knows a student’s academic strengths & weaknesses, interests, hobbies, and extracurricular activities, the better prepared they are to advise students throughout their academic journey, ultimately helping them reach their goals.
Besides advocating for students who require disability accommodations, counselors mediate between the school’s social workers, teachers, psychologists, administrators, and parents by updating their school counselor brochures from time to time and by creating educational plans based on the student’s requirements.
2. Help with Academic Scoring
School counselors also play a pivotal role in improving a student’s academic scores outside college preparation. As per Counseling@NYU, schools with a single counselor for 250 students have 94% attendance, 91% graduation, and 2% discipline issue rates.
Dissimilar to school counseling of the past, today, the process is more data-driven, further improving the probability of student success rate. Different ways in which school counselors can improve a student’s academic scores include:
- Conducting individual counseling sessions to identify weak students and the reasons behind their set back.
- Offering credit completion and curriculum guidance that appeals to the student’s interests while helping them attain learning objectives.
- Attending students who need special care by setting up group activities and discussions.
- Recommending tutoring resources or alternatives for weak students struggling academically.
- Setting up a supporting and motivating classroom environment where students can express themselves freely.
- Positive student storytelling to improve confidence.
- Teaching students the right way to set realistic objectives and achieve the same while monitoring their progress.
- Guiding the students to perform under pressure and during test anxiety.
School counselors can hugely contribute to improving a student’s academic scores through these small but effective steps.
3. Making Students College and Career-Ready
Students transition to a college for higher education and further build a career with the base being their school. And school counselors make them ready for this transition, assuring they are college and career-ready. Students have easy access to college guidance, hence better college application rates.
Serving as the ultimate college and career planning experts, these professionals offer strategic guidance regarding the most suitable colleges and career guidance.
Immensely talented and experienced in their job, school counselors know more about colleges and the right career paths than the students and can present the most unexplored alternatives. Students moving to college can use their counselor’s expertise and discover preferences regarding location, school size, and intended study course to directly apply to the most suitable colleges.
Besides advising students on colleges, counselors also offer guidance on scholarships, other financial aid, and college application fee waivers. Offering required help with recommendation letters and statements of purpose are other niche responsibilities of a counselor.
They also possess good knowledge of trade schools, work-based learning scopes, and apprenticeships and use the same to help students taking on varied career paths post-graduation. Training the students to relate their academic studies to future success is an added benefit of availing the services of a school counselor.
4. Improved Emotional and Social Skills
School counselors also influence students’ emotional and social skills in myriad ways. By safeguarding the school’s behavioral environment and motivating students to be more open to conversations while expressing themselves confidently, counselors improve students’ connection with the school and attendance records.
School counselors also serve as great resources for students with mental health problems as they conduct different programs to improve their potential in self-regulation, cognition, social and behavioral areas.
Working with parents, teachers, and school administrators, these professionals create spaces where students can thrive academically and develop emotional and social skills that further show their academic performance. For students troubled with family issues, counselors discuss it with parents and arrange sessions with teachers if the class ambiance makes a student uncomfortable.
5. Improved Health and a Great Life After School
A professional relationship with a school counselor helps students accomplish better health and wellness. With rising instances of bullying, specifically cyberbullying in schools, counselors in the modern educational environment work with students to help them overcome depression, face life positively, and give up drugs and alcohol.
Moreover, a school counselor prepares students for a great life after school by setting the foundation to handle emotional conflicts and personal issues. Students get training programs to shape their behavior and learn values and discipline.
When they are fully aware of the changing world under the guidance of a school counselor, they are better prepared for even the worst with a clear focus and a good sense of direction. By providing the social, emotional, and behavioral support students require at different stages, counselors play a significant role in their journey, both during and after school.
To conclude, school counselors are the cornerstone for student success. Besides influencing the students academically on a positive note, they can work on a more personal level, impacting their life even after academics. The position involves taking up huge responsibility and is substantially rewarding as well.