Researcher: US High Schools Must Invest in College Counselors

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Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Admitted in December 2015.

US high schools must devote more time to college counseling if they want to “see the fruit of other investments,” according to one education researcher.

In a 2015 column, New America staffer Abigail Swisher makes the case that students need both rigorous curriculum and personalized guidance to achieve their postsecondary plans.

“If we want to recreate the American high school as a place where all students have the resources for success in college and career, we need to reinvent the role of counselors,” Swisher writes, citing data from NACAC and other education associations. “This could mean reducing the caseload or number of responsibilities each counselor has, or it might mean moving to an entirely different model of support.”

Currently, the average school counselor is assigned 470 students.

And the kids that are most likely to fall through the cracks are those who have the fewest resources, Swisher noted. Data show that low-income and minority students are less likely to attend college than their peers from wealthier, white families.

Allowing counselors more time and resources to do their jobs could help address that disparity, according to Swisher, an advocate of early college counseling.

“For students without the social capital to guide them through the process of college and career planning with ease, counselors can fill a huge gap by providing students with college advising as early as (and in some cases, before) the start of high school,” Swisher writes. “Counselors can ensure that students are setting goals early, taking the appropriate courses, and when it comes time, researching and applying to colleges or certification programs in line with their goals.”

Read Swisher’s full column and learn more about the importance of school counselors.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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