Report: Counselors Positively Impact College Access


Students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are significantly more likely to attend college and apply for federal financial aid, according to a new study released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

The findings, culled from nationally representative data, are the first to demonstrate that school counselors have a positive impact on student outcomes that is both quantifiable and statistically significant.

NACAC’s latest research report — How Can High School Counseling Shape Students’ Postsecondary Attendance? — shows that 12th graders who talked about their future plans with a school counselor were:

  • 6.8 times more likely to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • 3.2 times more likely to attend college.
  • Two times more likely to attend a bachelor’s degree program.

“These new findings offer proof of what educators have long known — school counselors play a critical role in encouraging students to plan for the future and navigate the college application process,” said NACAC CEO Joyce Smith. “As the country looks for ways to boost college-going rates, NACAC’s research proves that investing in school counselors is a powerful strategy to encourage equal access to postsecondary education.”

The report — which draws on data from the US Department of Education’s High School Longitudinal Study — also underscores the importance of ensuring school counselors have adequate time to help their students plan for college.

In a 2015 NACAC study, 54 percent of counselors reported that their counseling department spent less than 20 percent of its time on college readiness, selection, and applications. But the latest research shows such activities are crucial when it comes to preparing students for life after graduation, with the time counselors spent on college preparation directly influencing whether students met with them to discuss college admission.

Read the full report.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

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