For many generations of students, school counselors have played an essential role in their socio-emotional development, academic success, and career and college pathway decisions.
In fact, a recent study from Education Next suggests that effective counselors increase students’ chances of graduating high school and their college or career preparedness, particularly for minority students. Not only do counselors have the potential to help students navigate their futures, they have the capability to play an essential role in our collective goal of closing the racial and socioeconomic divide.
Much like the rest of the academic world, school counselors are facing hurdles as they adapt their multifaceted role to distance learning models in the face of unprecedented circumstances. As economic and employment trends alter students’ post-secondary plans, it is imperative that counselors have the proper tools to guide students through their pathway options.
For many school counselors, however, the challenges existed before the pandemic – many districts struggle to meet American School Counselor Association’s recommended 250-to-1 student-counselor ratio and to provide counselors with the proper training and resources. Additionally, the day-to-day duties of most counselors have increasingly become overwhelmed by academic scheduling and student mental health over the past decade. As a result, there is little training and graduate coursework on college and career-readiness nationwide.
Amidst shifting economic and social paradigms, resources to support counselors are needed now more than ever. The pandemic has heightened the need for their expert mentorship across SEL, academic, and most significantly, post-secondary planning.
While a comprehensive school counseling program will be a challenge with budget cuts, there are actionable ways to prepare for the upcoming school year. Supporting our counselors and equipping them with the tools and resources they need is vital in shaping student success – and by extension, determining our collective path to building a more equitable future.
Check out our insights and resources related to student counseling services below to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Career Exploration & Planning
Over the next few years, demographic and economic shifts are projected to decrease the number of college-bound students. According to a recent survey by Naviance, students looking to go straight into the workforce, pursue a technical certificate, or join the military increased by five percentage points.
Resources & Ideas
- Futurescape: ASA’s new (and free!) digital tool lets students explore thousands of education and career paths on their own terms. Powered by real-time insights, it’s the only future exploration tool that learns and grows in sync with young people’s evolving strengths, passions, interests, and goals.
- Nepris: In the past, students have relied on in-person experiences to navigate their career choices. With limited access to these opportunities, counselors can leverage Nepris’ Industry Talks and teacher resources to integrate industry engagement into the curriculum.
- Educational Pathways: To prepare students for their vocational pathways, counselors can incorporate foundational knowledge with the ASA Educational Pathway lesson plan.
- Career Dig: Counselors can encourage students to explore their potential career paths with ASA’s Career Dig lesson plan.
- Middle School Career Exploration: For counselors serving students between 5th and 8th grade, check out ASA’s list of resources catered to career exploration in middle school.
Just as the number of college-bound students is expected to decrease, the number of first-generation students will increase. These college-bound students cannot rely on their family’s background to provide a helping hand. Instead, they will rely on counselors to guide them through all components of the college admissions process.
Resources & Ideas
- ASA Webinars: Counselors and students alike can learn about the college decision-making process and the components to consider through our webinars.
The financial repercussions of COVID-19on many families has significantly impacted what students must consider when exploring college and career pathways. The recent survey by Naviance shows that 59 percent of students will prioritize financial aid and scholarship offers in their decision-making process. To maneuver all the moving parts required for these applications, students will depend on cogent resources from counselors in order to pursue these pathways.
Resources & Ideas
- School Counselors & College Financial Fit: ASA unpacks the dichotomy between counselor academic recommendations and familial considerations to better understand how counselors can help high schoolers with financial planning.
- The Institute of Student Loan Advisors: This blog provides a comprehensive guide to understanding financial aid and how it is impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, they have collaborated on a website dedicated to aid within the context of the pandemic.
The social-emotional support that counselors provide, especially now, is imperative to student success. In fact, devoting time to the uptick in mental health needs is essential to enabling students to proactively plan their futures.
Resources & Ideas
- Serving Students in New Ways: To keep students connected and engaged in their school community, ASA partnered with schools and career programs to plan Tik-Tok challenges, Netflix Movie Nights, and more to ensure face-to-face interactions during quarantine.
- We’re stronger when we work together: School district professionals in Methuen, Arlington, and a number of other Massachusetts school districts combined their resources and expertise into one website in response to the increased need for social-emotional guidance.
Whether the upcoming year will be in-person, virtual, or a mix of both, counselors will be critical guides to students whose lives and plans have been upended. With the right resources and timely knowledge, counselors have the power to uplift students who have been significantly impacted by COVID, particularly those in underserved communities. From all corners of the working world, we have an obligation to support them in every way we can.