By Eric Blanco, CASC President 2016–2017, School Counselor, Ernest Righetti High School
Happy National School Counseling Week 2017! The goal of this week is to “focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems.” In the spirit of the week, here are the top 5 things that I believe every school counselor wants you to know—whether you’re a student, parent, or fellow educator.
1. College and Career? We’ve Got You Covered!
School counselors are great resources for college knowledge and career planning. It is never too early to start planning your future. Beginning in elementary school with exposure to college terms and careers, attending career fairs/field trips in middle school and developing a great relationship with your high school counselor will help increase your access to the college process and financial aid. In fact, a recent study showed that students who met with a school counselor to talk about financial aid or college were three times more likely to attend college, and they were nearly seven times more likely to apply for financial aid.
2. Have Struggles Outside of School? We Can Help With Those, too.
School counselors are also trained to help students with their social/emotional development. Throughout their education, students deal with a variety of issues stemming from family concerns, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, and financial struggle. Students also deal with personal and social issues, such as bullying, anxiety, depression, and failure. A school counselor is a key resource to connect students with community resources, referrals to interventions, and most importantly, a caring and safe person to share your thoughts and feelings with, without judgement. They also help you learn from your past behavior and assist in developing new skills that will help you be successful at school, in your community, and in achieving your future goals.
3. Get to Know Us!
School counselors are key to helping students get connected with leadership opportunities. I am always contacted or asked about which students would be great for summer research programs, leadership camps, or career shadowing internships. Developing a good rapport with your school counselor and letting them know what your future goals include is very important. Start this conversation early in 9th grade and build on it throughout the four years of high school. This will be extremely valuable when it comes time to apply for scholarships and request letters of recommendation.
4. We Do More Than You Realize.
School counselors are also allies/advocates/social justice agents of change. As part of our training and education, it is our responsibility: to provide a safe, inclusive environment that promotes access for all students to a quality education; to provide a safe place for students to be who they are; and to provide the college knowledge necessary for students to continue their education beyond high school. Counselors review data and collaborate with all school stakeholders (e.g., students, teachers, parents, administrators) to develop better ways to increase student achievement, promote a positive school climate, and decrease dropout rates by increasing attendance. We also advocate for our underserved populations, which may include our foster youth, English language learners, LGBTQ youth, and undocumented youth, by making sure that their voice is heard on campus and in our community.
5. We Are Here for School Staff, too!
Lastly, school counselors not only provide services to students, but are also available to support all school personnel. Examples may include counselors participating in school leadership. They are able to provide support to teachers through classroom lessons, ranging from college and career readiness to positive and respectful behavior, as well as how to deal with death or grieving after a school tragedy or loss. School counselors can also help defuse conflict among student groups, the student and teacher, or the student and parents. This is very important because if we can improve relationships or remove barriers to student success, our school community will grow stronger and healthier. So, please don’t hesitate to contact your school counselor to collaborate on your next activity or project.
Click here to learn more about the role of a school counselor. Do you have something that you’d add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Eric Blanco is a proud family man and alumnus of Cal Poly, SLO and the University of La Verne. He has been a school counselor for 15 years. Throughout those years, he has always had an affinity for AVID, whether it was as a school counselor, site coordinator, or now as a District Director. As a first-generation college graduate, he considers it great to work at the high school that he graduated from and give back to his community. Eric is also involved in his state’s School Counseling Association and currently holds the position of President of CASC. This is a great way to advocate for the profession of school counseling and stay up-to-date on best practices that he brings back to his site, Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, CA.
Happy National School Counseling Week from all of us at AVID! We hope to see you later this year at one of our AVID Summer Institutes! If you're new to AVID, visit our website to request more information.