Logjam on the Pathway to College

Karen Full - @KarenAFull

I recently read an interesting blog piece in the Huffington Post by Patrick O’Connor, Cranbrook School's Associate Dean of College Counseling and a former NACAC president. The post is called Counselor Training, College Board, and the Circle of Huh. In it, Patrick describes the disconnect between the lack of graduate school training that school counselors receive in the areas of college and financial aid counseling, and these same tasks that counselors are expected to perform in their schools. We expect school counselors to inform their students and families about college admission and financial aid, yet many have really never been trained in conducting this particular part of their job. Patrick has been urging communication between legislators, school board leaders and counselor graduate programs in Michigan to address this problem.

The blog references a 2012 College Board survey of school counselors called True North: Charting the Course toward College and Career Readiness. Read the executive summary of this report. In a nutshell, the majority of school counselors in the U.S. feel inadequately armed to guide their students through the college search and selection process.

Do your state university master's degree programs in guidance and counseling include courses that cover these topics?

Think about it: particularly in low-income school districts, where most parents are also not equipped to guide their children toward a future that includes college, who else can students turn to for help with the college admissions process, FAFSA filing, and scholarship searches? That is, if guidance counselors could even realistically find enough time to work with each student, given that the national student-to-counselor average ratio for public secondary schools last year was 421 to 1, according to NACAC's State of College Admission 2012.

Read more about these issues on the NACAC Issues and Advocacy page.  There is great information to be found here about the Pathways to College Act, which would create programs in low-income school districts to assist students with college readiness and preparation.

Urge your state and federal legislators to support funding and training for college counseling.

Karen Full on Twitter @karenafull