New York Times Cites Problems With Guidance Counselors

Even the best get a little... hold on... wait... uh, busy.

Even the best get a little... hold on... wait... uh, busy.

Our friends at the New York Times has published an article on a recent study showing that most people who graduated from high school in the last dozen years thought their guidance counselor was unable to provide useful advice on their college decision, with a large percentage feeling that the help offered was impersonal.

Also cited in the article was the sobering statistic that the American School Counselor Association considers a student:counselor ratio of 100 to 1 as 'optimal,' but that the average nationwide is 265:1, with schools in California shooting up over 1,000:1.

We should read this as evidence that the people tasked with providing the kind of organization and optimization that today's college application process requires are understandably overwhelmed by the task much of the time. And who can blame them? Much of a guidance counselor's time is eaten up with in-school requirements, scheduling conflicts, and even disciplinary issues that have nothing to do with helping to plan college experiences for their students.

So for students, try to make your time with your counselor count - and know that they aren't necessarily going to have the resources to organize your work for you, nor are they necessarily going to be able to plan your meetings in advance in a way that will optimize the experience for both of you.

Make sure that the preliminary, basic work of organization and management of your tasks is taken care of automatically, and try your best to mine your guidance counselor's considerable knowledge of university specifics and different opportunities, rather than just focusing on "what you have to do to get these applications done." You'll be much better served the sooner you can get to the upper-level discussions your guidance counselor is qualified to have with you. And he or she will be a lot happier, more grateful, and eager to do so.

For guidance counselors, remember that there are tools out there that may seem cost-prohibitve at first, but ultimately save your school money through greater efficiency. Using CEO as a management tool, for example, makes your job easier, cuts anxiety for all involved, and helps you keep on top of where your students' applications stand without a single piece of paper to keep track of.

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