High School Counselors: Essential to College Planning

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Feature Story

by Kerry Turner

Counselor and StudentIn the age of the Internet where information is literally at a student's fingertips, just how important are high school counselors in a student's college planning process? We know counselors still play a key role in guiding their students' college decisions – but did you know that parents of high school seniors/juniors also rely on their child's high school counselor for assistance with the college planning process?

In a recent study by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, parents of high school seniors/juniors cited the following sources that they considered credible in making educational decisions for their child's postsecondary education:

  • School counselors - 46%
  • Internet - 29 %
  • Teachers - 21%
  • Family members - 19%
  • College guides - 18%
  • Adult mentors - 15%
  • Friends - 7%

While we all know that information on the college process is widely available on the Internet and advice is often freely given to them from family and friends, for some families trying to help their child figure out what they are going to do after high school, a key source is often found within the walls of their high school guidance or college planning office. To some counselors, the idea that students and their parents are actually listening and taking to heart their advice on college planning might come as welcome shock.

In the students' college planning process, a counselor's role can include:

  • Helping students determine their abilities and interests in future educational and occupational choices;
  • Making sure they select the right courses and are on track for the kind of postsecondary education and occupation(s) they would like to pursue;
  • Giving students information on different schools (entrance requirements, curricula offerings, costs, etc.) and occupations;
  • Encouraging college visits and participation in admission interviews; and
  • Giving students information about financial aid, such as scholarships, grants and student loans.

Counselor and StudentThat's a lot for counselors to do among their many other responsibilities, but don't forget one very important detail: counselors are essential partners with parents and colleges. Helping students make one of the most important decisions of their lives should be a joint venture. Many college admissions offices have high school coordinators/representatives that will work with high school counselors and parents through on-site presentations, campus visits, and even facilitating alumni mentoring programs. Offering students and their parents a wide variety of educational options in college planning is essential in them making the right college decision.

For more information for students considering enrolling at a career college, counselors can also visit the www.imagine-america.org web site and click on the tab "High School Counselors."

If you have comments or questions about this article, send us an e-mail at ianewsletter@career.org.