Why I Love Being a School Counselor


Editor’s Note: National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, is always celebrated the first full week in February. Learn more about this year’s celebration and use the comment section below to let us know why you love being a school counselor. 

When asked what I like most about my job, I always respond with: “Life is lived in my office.” My work days are filled with the highs, and occasionally the lows, of teenagers navigating high school, reflecting on their experiences, and planning for the future. As students share their lives with me, often with laughter yet sometimes through a few tears, it is inspiring. If anyone doubts we will soon find a nation filled with creative, diligent, and altruistic leaders, then they should spend a day with me.  And here’s why:

You will get a glimpse into the future!
Generation Z believes they can make the world a better place. What is more, they enjoy building community. In the politically polarized world that many adults inhabit, I appreciate that every day, I see young people who represent the opposite. Today’s high school students are “other oriented” and have been busy learning about, and advocating for, social justice. The future I see this generation creating is life-affirming not life-diminishing. What other career provides such a positive window into the future?

You will laugh.
A wise educator once told me that a school without laughter is a school without real learning transpiring.  Our current generation of high school students value humor. They share YouTube clips they think will make you chuckle. And they play funny pranks, like wrapping up the family cat, when they know of your lack of fondness for cats, and give it to you as a gift. For the record, the box had ventilation.

You will be inspired.
While the students are inspiring, so too are the faculty, staff, and parent volunteers that help run a school. You see bus drivers high-fiving every student entering the bus after a tough loss at a soccer game; you hear from a student how a teacher’s book recommendation changed her life; you observe maintenance staff who connect with students so powerfully that they are invited to give commencement speeches.   School counselors see the power and synergy of every member of a school community in educating today’s students.

You might shed a few tears.
Sadly, as a school counselor you worry about the increased rates of students with anxiety and depression who arrive in your office but remain in your thoughts long after the day is over. You are concerned about the plight of undocumented students; you are distressed that many students live in communities ravaged by opioid addiction; and you are perturbed by the inequity of spending on education.

You will feel fortunate.
School counselors know that despite the difficult tasks and topics, it is a gift to be a part of a community that works to create engaged, confident, balanced, happy, bright, creative, and proactive young men and women who will shape and lead a changing world.  What other careers allow you to work alongside peers in order to empower young people to be informed, bold, resourceful, kind, and ethical global citizens? Not many. School counselors see life fully lived and for this, we are most fortunate. I hope you get to spend the day with one. And if you do not agree that it was one of the more life-affirming days of your life, then I have a student’s cat I just might be able to give you as a consolation prize.

NACAC member Kelly Herrington is director of college counseling and student services 
at University Prep — an independent day school for students in grades 6 through 12 in Seattle.

7 thoughts on “Why I Love Being a School Counselor”

  1. Well geez! What a wonderful way to start my day. From someone who has worked in college admissions for a LONG, LONG time, and lives within a family of educators, AND in the mom of one Generation Z child – thank you!

  2. Working with students from China I get a real sense of joy when a student decides to follow his dream and attend a small liberal arts college. There is enormous pressure on these students to attend a “top 50” university . They often tend to cut themselves off from exploring avenues for their future other than business or STEM. Encouraging students to look at what they love is a huge part of what I do and it can be very frustrating but also very rewarding.

  3. Absolutely true and so well written! I was lucky to be a teacher/ then high school counselor for 20 plus years and now am Independent Consultant because I need my teen fix. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others each day.

  4. We love this post, and all of our colleagues in the school counselling community! On behalf of Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, thank you for truly investing in your work. Your guidance is instrumental in helping students arrive on our campus and so many others each fall, and we are grateful. Happy NSCW from up North!

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