Category Archives: Importance of School Counselors

Celebrating Black Lives Matter at School Week and National School Counseling Week

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This week is both National School Counseling Week and Black Lives Matter at School Week and the two go hand-in-hand.

NACAC believes school counselors have an important and often under-acknowledged role to play in moving toward the goal of equity in education.

One of NACAC’s core values is that our institutional and individual members strive to eliminate from the education system bias based on race, ethnicity, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, political affiliation, national origin, or disability. We view this as fundamental to our responsibility as educators.

However, the stark reality is that inequities do exist, and are often strongly associated with race and ethnicity.

For example:

High student-to-counselor ratios
School counselors in schools serving large numbers of racial and ethnic minority students face ratios well above the current national ratio of 464:1. According to the Education Trust, a high school counselor who serves predominantly students of color has to serve 34 more students every year than a school counselor who serves fewer students of color, and 27 states are shortchanging either their students of color, students from low-income families, or both. And since black students are more likely than their white peers to cite a school counselor’s involvement in changing their college-going perceptions, such shortages present steep barriers to students of color.

Inequitable access to education resources and college preparatory coursework
Evidence of racial gaps in access to school resources is plentiful. Persistent racial and ethnic gaps exist in dual enrollment and college preparatory coursework (AP and IB), which is the foundation for NACAC’s policy priority in support of equitable funding for schools to ensure that all students have access to coursework that will prepare them for education beyond high school.

Implicit bias and cultural fluency
There is a substantial and growing body of research documenting individual implicit bias across all industries and facets of American life. College admission counseling professionals, including school counselors, have identified implicit bias and other, more overt, forms of bias as a critical obstacle to serving all students well. As such, NACAC recently created a resource for practitioners wishing to learn more about cultural fluency and bias, and urges school leaders and policymakers to consider the effects of bias on the educational system.

Interaction with a school counselor has statistically significant, positive effects on college-going behavior and ensuring equitable access to school counseling and other critical resources—particularly for racial/ethnic minority students—is an immediate concern to be addressed by policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels.

David Hawkins is NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy. You can reach him at dhawkins@nacacnet.org.

A Letter from a Counselor to High School Seniors

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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 what you hope your students learn from you.

Every year, I say goodbye to a group of students I’ve shepherded through the college application process. We’ve spent a lot of time together. Obviously, we’ve talked about college. But we’ve also spent a lot of time talking about life, their hopes and dreams, the challenges they’ve faced. As I brace myself for the inevitable separation, this is what I hope they’ve learned from me.

Continue reading A Letter from a Counselor to High School Seniors

Never a Dull Moment for School Counselors

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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. 

Why do I love being a school counselor?

If I had a dime for every time a parent or friend commented, “I don’t know how you do your job,” I think I could pay for my trip to the national conference with money left over to buy treats for the rest of my colleagues all over the country.

My response is always, “I love my job! There is never a dull moment.” And that is the truth.

Continue reading Never a Dull Moment for School Counselors

Finding Meaning as a School Counselor

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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 what drew you to the counseling profession.  

There is an iconic scene in the movie Clerks (1994), Kevin Smith’s first film, which centers on a suited man sitting on the floor of a convenience store searching for the perfect carton of eggs.

According to a random customer and the titular clerks, Dante and Randal, this man is suffering from shell shock as a result of working as a counselor.

The customer says, “Well, if your job was as meaningless as theirs, wouldn’t you go crazy, too?”

My response, “Et tu, Mr. Smith?”

Continue reading Finding Meaning as a School Counselor

Brian Coleman Named School Counselor of the Year

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Congratulations to NACAC member Brian Coleman, the 2019 School Counselor of the Year.

The American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) School Counselor of the Year award “honors professionals who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic and social/emotional development and college and career readiness needs.”

Coleman, a school counselor and counseling department chair at Jones College Prep in Chicago, IL, has worked to make sure his school takes a holistic approach to counseling.

“As a school with college in our name, there tends to be a great deal of focus and energy placed exclusively on students’ college and postsecondary planning processes,” Coleman told ASCA. “However, we have worked to create a broader awareness that students’ holistic well-being is just as important to their current and future successes.”

Coleman was honored by Jill Biden at a ceremony Friday in Washington, DC.

“It can be so hard to be a teenager. We’ve all been there. It can be so hard to know where you fit in and where you fit in to your community, especially as you plan your future. But Brian gives his students confidence in their abilities. He helps them find the best in themselves, and he pushes them to reach higher,” Biden said.

“He represents the best of this profession, but he’s certainly not alone.”

Learn more about Coleman and watch a livestream from the SCOY award ceremony.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

Celebrate National School Counseling Week 2019

National School Counseling Week kicks off on Monday. The annual five-day event, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), celebrates the many ways counselors make a difference in the lives of students.

Online contests and local events are scheduled across the country, making it the perfect time to highlight the profession we love.

Continue reading Celebrate National School Counseling Week 2019

Students Believe School Shootings are Top Issue Facing US

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School shootings are a primary driver of student activism and political interest, a new study found.

In a study shared by Axios, 68 percent of people aged 14 to 29 said school shootings are the most important issue facing the US.

“The issue connects young Americans unlike anything except 9/11 in the last 20 years,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, told Axios.

Continue reading Students Believe School Shootings are Top Issue Facing US

Survey Shows Schools Plan to Use Grant Dollars to Improve School Counseling

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Preliminary findings from a survey administered by AASA: The School Superintendents Association show that many school districts plan to use funding from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program to improve school counseling.

Continue reading Survey Shows Schools Plan to Use Grant Dollars to Improve School Counseling

Former NACAC President Offers Strategies to Prevent Summer Melt

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Nearly one-third of college-bound high school graduates don’t arrive at any college campus the following fall.

This pervasive problem is known as summer melt and Patrick O’Connor, a former NACAC president and current school counselor ambassador fellow at the US Department of Education, has some advice for combating it.

Continue reading Former NACAC President Offers Strategies to Prevent Summer Melt