School counselors play an important role in providing guidance, support and motivation to students in their educational institutions. The scope of this important role has grown from mostly giving guidance about college applications and preparatory classes to providing academic, social, emotional, career and college advice.
A school counselor is an educated and compassionate resource who is always there to lend an ear and provide support. They are professionals who coordinate a school’s counseling program and create relationships with the students, faculty and administrators. A school counselor can collaborate with others in the school to create programs that are beneficial to students and ensure the students are thriving and getting ready to face the future.
Support for students
School counselors are an invaluable resource for students. When a student is uncomfortable speaking to other authority figures in their lives, like parents or teachers, a school counselor can step in and provide them with guidance. These individuals can also facilitate one-on-one meetings with parents, teachers, or other students if they feel that kind of intervention is warranted.
Academically speaking, school counselors can meet with students, gage where their interests lie for the future and provide advice on extracurricular activities or other courses that can help them boost their chances. When a student is struggling in one area and that is going to affect their overall academic performance, a school counselor can intervene and advise on tutoring or extra credit projects with their teachers so they do not fall too far behind.
School counselors have more recently played a large role in facilitating grief counseling for schools that have been victims of gun violence — something that has plagued schools in the last few years.
Support for parents and guardians
When a student is unable to speak to their parent or guardian about what is bothering them, it is important that the school counselor provides support with the knowledge that parents, or guardians are an important relationship in the student’s life. When the matter is very sensitive, the counselor can facilitate a meeting with the parents and include other resources to help open the conversation. This should be a relief to parents because they know a reasonable adult is guiding their child in the right direction.
When the issues require disciplinary action or mental health resources, a counselor can ease the parents into the discussion and be a resource for any questions. If a student has special needs, the counselor can offer the parents advice on other resources available such as nurses, special education teachers, psychologists and other staff. The school counselor is a great resource for parents when they need help with student-related issues.
Support for teachers
School counselors complete an effective team of individuals who all collaborate to help students succeed. Counselors can step in to provide focused attention to students whose teachers may not have the time or resources to help. With the problems teachers have been facing with class sizes, it can be hard to give each student the special attention they need to reach their full potential.
A school counselor can help with planning activities in and out of the classroom to help students. If a counselor senses a problem with the student that may affect their academic performance, they can facilitate a meeting with the teachers to discuss any accommodations that may need to be put in place. A school counselor will monitor student’s activities and provide teachers with resources and advice that can help them with teaching methods and more effective communication.
Support for school administrators
School counselors are integral in helping the administrators with running the school operations in relation to academic and counseling programs. They can help ensure that the programs being provided in the school are in line with the school’s mission and are effective with helping students achieve their goals. When it comes time to apply for funding and grants, school counselors are helpful in providing useful information from the program.
The duties of school counselors may include:
- Instructing students on social studies issues such as sex education classes, anti-bullying seminars and information on studying techniques, and provide seminars on other important matters relating to their school.
- Guidance in career and vocational training by helping students fill in the gaps in their academics or helping them select and prepare for college.
- School counselors provide counseling to students who may be experiencing conflicts with peers, teachers or their parents. These counseling sessions can occur during school hours or after school and can be one-on-one or facilitated with the other party.
- School counselors are in a unique position to detect any learning difficulties or psychological concerns that may show up in children and young adults. They have knowledge of resources and programs to provide referrals to parents about mental health concerns or academic needs.
- Counselors are integral in helping students of all needs achieve success and integrate with the student population. When dealing with a student that has special needs, counselors will help pinpoint accommodations necessary for the child and work with the administration to put programs in place to help the student achieve success.
- Maintain academic standards and set goals for academic success.
- Help students improve skills such as organization, time management and study habits.
- Help students deal with any social issues that may be getting in the way of academic success and provide guidance or interventions to correct them.
- Help students achieve social success by providing advice on social skills.
- Help students cope with school violence, accidents, and trauma in the school and in the community.
- Assess students for strengths, interests and aptitude and help them develop these qualities.
What credentials does a school counselor need?
A school counselor is an integral member of the school system and invaluable in providing support to students, teachers and administrators. If you are considering becoming a school counselor, then you will require a school counseling degree from an accredited online school like Walsh University. The program helps you build comprehensive knowledge of the profession and the growing trends which allow you to better perform your duties. School counselors must have a master’s degree, followed by a licensing test before they are allowed to practice counseling in a school environment.
When you pursue a career in school counseling, you are entering a vocation that has a positive effect on the educational system and the community. Counselors are valued members of institutional teams along with teachers, administrators, students, and parents. It is a good idea to check the requirements of your state when it comes to working in a school as a counselor.
If you are currently working with youth in another vocation and want to become a licensed school counselor, you need to further build on existing skills and competencies. Group and individual crisis counseling are necessary skills that you will learn wherever you decide to get your master’s degree. Development of programs for at-risk youth, including interventions, is also necessary when you are dealing with children and young adults who are still developing emotionally and physically. Internships as part of your studies are invaluable in showing you the practical side of working as a counselor and will give you a taste of what the day-to-day job is like.
A counseling degree will:
- Increase the student’s knowledge of the profession of school counseling — the principles, philosophy, trends and history. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the school counseling profession will grow by 10% between the years of 2021 and 2031, which is above average. While the recommended ratio of students to school counselors is 250:1, it is closer to 415:1, according to The American School Counselor Association (ASCA). This means that there is real demand for capable and compassionate individuals to fill those empty spots.
- Teach the students to apply counseling methods when dealing with students and their families who have experienced trauma or loss. This is especially valuable when dealing with students who experience violence like a mass school shooting or the suicide of a classmate.
- Students learn to address sensitive issues such as mood, behavioral issues, sexuality and substance abuse in addition to academic success.
- Teach how to positively influence student’s lives by using various counseling techniques.
- Help students work on consulting and collaborating with members of the educational system and develop organizational and administrative knowledge.
- Teach techniques in counseling assessment and intervention as they relate to emotional and behavioral issues.
School counselors are integral to the success of students in their schools. They provide support to students by giving them academic advice and finding resources to help them fill in any gaps, and they step in when there are personal or emotional issues getting in their way. A school counselor will offer to facilitate meetings with parents and teachers when there are any behavioral problems and recommend community programs if they are needed. These individuals work with administrators to provide necessary data when it comes to applying for funding and grants. They are there to step in and make a difference in students’ lives and help them achieve academic and personal success before they leave the school.