Counselors get low marks

High school counselors didn’t provide much help with college or career planning, young adults tell Public Agenda. In a national survey, Can I Get A Little Advice Here?, 60 percent of those who went on to higher education “gave their high school counselors poor grades for their college advice.” Nearly half said they felt like “just a face in the crowd.”

Many high school counselors are overwhelmed with students in crisis and have little time for anything else.

Downtown College Prep, the charter school in my book, Our School, invests a lot in helping students and their parents understand what it means to prepare for college, how to pay for it and how to succeed once you get there. It’s essential for students who are the first in their families to aspire to college.

KQED Radio’s Michael Krasny is hosting a special two-hour broadcast on first-generation college students from Downtown College Prep in San Jose on March 10. To join the live audience, call (415) 553-3300, or email forum@kqed.org.

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Comments

  1. It would be interesting to see the results differentiated by student-counselor ratio.

  2. My four kids attended four high schools in three different states, all in affluent suburbs. None of their counselors, or their friends’ counselors, appeared to have any real interest or expertise in academics; neither HS coursework nor college plans. When our first entered HS, we were told to assume the counselors were useless until proven otherwise and useless they were. In a school where the top quarter of kids took all academic classes at honors or AP level, incoming freshmen were continually told that they should take no more than one or two honors classes. The counselors’ area of interest the social/emotional arena; they loved offering shoulders to kids upset about breaking up with a boyfriend, or not getting into their first-choice college. Helping them maximize their academic/extracurricular qualifications and polish their college applications, no.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I have no idea what counselors are supposed to do. If you’re doing okay in school, I suppose you won’t see one.
    The only thing my counselor did for me was to get my transcript wrong. If my father hadn’t caught it, I would probably not have gotten into college.

  4. Counselors did not themselves attend competitive colleges (for the most part) nor did they seriously consider non-college occupations. They can be helpful in the process of managing the paperwork of college applications, but they are not helpful to kids who have focused academic interests nor to those who aim for apprenticeships, joining a family business, the military, etc.

  5. Counselors did not themselves attend competitive colleges (for the most part) nor did they seriously consider non-college occupations. They can be helpful in the process of managing the paperwork of college applications, but they are not helpful to kids who have focused academic interests nor to those who aim for apprenticeships, joining a family business, the military, etc.

  6. Michael E. Lopez, Esq. says:

    My HS counselor, the late Mrs. Vida Northrup, was absolutely indispensable in my college application process.

    I required her sign-off on my fee waiver applications.

    And that lady signed with style.

    I can’t recall her having done anything else, but that was pretty clutch.

  7. Mike Curtis says:

    I think Momof4 nailed it…HS counselors put their effort into finding out why “jenny” weeps during Algebra, not, what she can do to help prepare for college. If my school took the class scheduling responsibility away from its counselors, there wouldn’t be anything left for them to effectively do outside of manning a suicide hotline. Counselors: The greatest waste of instructional dollars in public education.

  8. We as a society do a pretty poor job in helping kids to understand what realistic career options are open to them. This is by no means totally a counseling problem, but that’s part of it.

  9. Ouch. Mike. Is that how you treat each other in your building?

  10. Mark Roulo says:

    Hmmm … I went to a private, Jesuit run high school, but the (note the use of the singular) college guidance counselor was excellent. Chalk me up as one anecdote for the other side.

    -Mark Roulo

  11. Mike Curtis says:

    Lightly Seasoned,

    No. It’s what I feel like when I’m home and able to reflect on our cooperative efforts after a few days of working with them.

  12. Those that can’t teach, counsel…

    Like most of the teachers and administrators, counselors are unlikely to have ever excelled at academics, but also are unlikely to have ever held a non-government job better than flipping burgers. The typical one has no experience with top-tier colleges, never experienced the joy of learning a difficult subject, and doesn’t know how to get a good job other than the one he is in – aside from possibly succeeding a retiring principal some day.