High School guidance counselors spend less than 30% of time helping students plan for college

Saturday, May 02, 2009

This post is inspired by a posting from The Plain Dealer Metro on cleveland.com (see link to article at end of this post)

Ask Lori Gill Hughes about what she does as the lone guidance counselor at Cardinal High School, and she will barely take time for a breath as she runs through the list:

  • Get out the word about scholarships and make sure applicants meet the deadlines.
  • Send out transcripts and recommendations for college applications.
  • Look into tutoring and summer school for failing students.
  • Schedule students for next year’s classes.
  • Oversee state testing.
  • Coordinate orientation at the beginning of the year and an awards ceremony at the end.
  • Deal with any problems kids bring to her office . . .
”I just jump from one thing to another all day long,” Hughes said. “I’m the only counselor for 440 students and I don’t even have secretarial help.”

Hughes is hardly alone in her frustration, according to a report released today by the Michigan-based Joyce Ivy Foundation. After surveying almost a third of Ohio’s 1,500-plus high school counselors, the report concluded they handle so many duties and so many students that they can’t focus on guiding their charges toward college or career training after graduation. [see link to full article at end of this post]

Career Coaching for Students™ is being pursued by families of high school students because of the facts behind this article. The boomerang effect among recent high school graduates is escalating at alarming rates. Too many schools provide a shallow solution that “looks good” on the surface. When we ask students at the beginning of our workshops what their schools have provided, they consistently reply “The school hasn’t provided much, just an online asessment that was lame [the results were not helpful] and some instruction on how to do career research using an online web account.”

When asked how the Career Coaching for Students™ workshop compares to their “in school” experience, students reply passionately with statements like “a huge difference, doesn’t compare, this was so much better”. When we ask parents a few days after the Career Coaching for Students™ workshop for their feedback, and many times unsolicited feedback three or six months after the workshop, we get statments like “my son is really excited about his future”, “s/he is looking at his/her high school classes much differently - to take him/her where s/he wants to go for a career”. “AP classes now have new meaning” and “his work ethic around studies has significantly improved”. You could easily replace he with she for those quotes. We hear a consistent message from parents about their student.

For high achievers, the biggest challenge is to narrow the large list of career possibilities and lower the loudness of outside influences, regardless of how well intentioned those nuggets of advice from friends and family are. For underperformers, many don’t see any possibilities and usually aren’t receiving much advice of any kind from family or teachers/counselors. Both are wanting to address the same question - what is it I will be passionate about doing and will do well?

Many school counselors believe that question can’t be answered in high school - that only life experiences and perhaps destiny will guide the student on a specific journey. We belive that perspective and cost are why most high schools have invested in one of the online “career process control” offerings. We have a growing body of evidence in the form of student and parent alumni of the Career Coaching for Students™ program that says differently. We also have a growing number of professionals, such as Marcie Swift, M.Ed. NCSP (Nationally Certified School Psychologist) and Director of The Swift Center for Learning, LLC who serves private and public schools, that are adopting and integrating the Career Coaching for Students™ program into their individual and institutional practice offerings.

To read the entire article from Cleveland.com that was the catalyst for this posting, go to http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/04/hire_more_high_school_counselo.html