Dear Future High School Counselor…

Editor’s Note: National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, is always celebrated the first full week in February. We asked NACAC member Edward “Eddie” Pickett III to reflect on what the week — and the profession — mean to him. He chose to pen a letter to the profession’s future leaders.

At my core, I love the development of people. Whether it was my time managing young professionals in admission, which I loved, or it’s working directly with students, growth is something I hold close to my heart. I think about the time and energy that my village spent molding me into a functioning citizen and now it’s my turn to help the next young person.

I’m a African American first-generation college graduate and Pell Grant recipient who grew up between Berkeley and Oakland, California, and lived with my grandparents a fair chunk of the time. Thinking about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), yeah, I’ve experienced a bunch and know there aren’t many in this field that are like me. If you are, GET AT ME DAWG, I’d love to connect!

No matter what was happening in my house, we always knew we were loved. I feel that quality is something I must bring to my daily role as a counselor. While working at an independent school has been the opposite of my life experience, I’ve realized that everyone wants to find a place where they feel wanted, supported, and challenged. Those three attributes stem from love and so do the following three:

Remember to laugh
While this is only my third year in counseling, this position has allowed me to connect with students in a way that I never could while being an admission officer. I get to hear about and experience so many highs alongside them, and some lows, that it inspires me to be better for them.

Be flexible
Working with high school students certainly keeps you on your toes. The little things that make me happy, like an awkward dance move in the hallway, an air high-five from across the room, and sugary snacks, have a way of bringing a smile to a student too. I’ve realized that these little things also go a long way to encourage a student when they’re doubting themselves. We’ve all been to a fork in the road, and counselors get students at a very vulnerable stage in life.

Encouragement is key
Everyone needs a cheerleader, and everyone also needs someone to set them straight. As a counselor, I often find myself playing both roles simultaneously. It’s both a challenge and an honor to be part of these moments where I get to encourage young people to look within to see how they can be their best selves.

With the three ideas above in mind, the real joy in this role is seeing each student excel in something of interest to them. And let’s be real, who gets to say: “I work with great future philosophers, scientists, researchers, teachers, athletes, thespians, entrepreneurs, artists, medical professionals, and maybe even a high school counselor” EV (insert clap) VER (insert clap) RY (insert clap) DAY (insert clap). A high school counselor does!

I take my charge as a counselor seriously because it is a privilege to have the opportunity to inspire America’s youth daily. I hope you will do the same when you choose this all-important work that has the ability to positively affect a young person’s life.

Edward “Eddie” Pickett III is a college counselor and 11/12 dean at Polytechnic School (CA).

4 thoughts on “Dear Future High School Counselor…”

  1. Thank you for sharing this and I already added this to my list of recommended reading to my group of grad students/future school counselors. How can we “get at you?”

  2. Love your letter! I am a first generation, Pell Grant recipient myself. I too grew up with ACE’s, but had my stable place with my grandparents. I am now in my 20th year as a School Counselor and enjoy every minute (well almost). My current position is at JP Knapp Early College High School in Currituck, NC. This is a very rural area, and 85% of our students at JPK are first generation, low income, minority or at risk of not graduating high school. I have to say this is the best school I have ever had the opportunity to work in. We have great success in forming relationships with our students by having them in Seminar classes that teach social skills, academic skills and college going skills. Last year, we had a record 84% of our graduates to graduate with an associate degree, college CTE diploma or college CTE certificate along with their high school diploma. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know there are others of us out here “doing the work” and loving it!

    1. Glad to know I’m not alone in the life story department. Thank you for sharing and for doing the work! Keep fighting the good fight.

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