The ideal student-to-counselor ratio is 250-to-1, yet the average school counselor currently serves a caseload that is nearly twice that size.
What are the implications for students and for the profession? Experts from NACAC and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) addressed that question today during a Facebook Live Q&A.
“Student outcomes are better with the 250-to-1 ratio,” Jill Cook, ASCA’s assistant director noted during the chat. “Attendance is better, achievement is better, graduation rates (are better).”
Even discipline referrals decrease as students gain greater access to a school counselor, she noted.
“Ideally, what we need to push for at all levels (K-12) is that 250-to-1 ratio,” Cook said, gaining nods of approval from NACAC’s David Hawkins and Crystal Newby, who also were featured in the conversation.
Research shows that students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are significantly more likely to attend college and apply for federal financial aid. Yet NACAC’s most recent report — a state-by-state look at student-to-counselor ratios released in cooperation with ASCA — showed that just three states meet the recommended ratio.
Hawkins, Newby, and Cook encouraged viewers to advocate on the state, federal, and local levels to increase student access to school counselors. All voices — including those of admission professionals at colleges and universities— are needed to lend support to this important cause, said Hawkins, who serves as NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy.
A 2016 NACAC report showed that 12th graders who talked about their future plans with a school counselor were nearly seven times more likely to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid and three times more likely to attend college.
“Admission officers have a role here,” Hawkins said. “If they can articulate for school leaders that this is what produces change and this is what we need from the higher ed side, that can help move the ball down the field.”
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