By Patrick O'Connor
School counselors have a new reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving season, thanks to a report released yesterday on the state of school counseling. Sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, the College Board’s Annual Survey of School Counselors measured counselor attitudes on a number of issues.
Two quotes draw important attention to the area of counselor readiness. As the report states,
Although the majority of counselors have a master’s degree (73 percent) and important prior work experience (58 percent were teachers of administrators), only a small minority feel very well trained for their jobs (only 16 percent rate their training as a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale). Nearly three in 10 (28 percent) believe their training did not prepare them well for their job and more than half (56 percent) feel only somewhat well trained.
The report adds counselors have sought out additional training in a number of specialized areas, with college and career counseling the single largest area where counselors sought more training.
This same theme of preparedness is bluntly addressed in the conclusion of the report, with a recommendation to
Align Counselor Education and Training Requirements with the Needs on the Ground. Counselors indicate that their preservice training, while somewhat satisfactory, does not adequately prepare them for the realities they are facing in schools. Course requirements should be updates to reflect this reality, including mandatory work on advising for college readiness, access and affordability.
(The full report can be found at
The College Board report provides further evidence of the yawning gap between education theory and the reality of working with real students with real needs, a gap unrecognized by most counselor educators and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Trained school counselors know the name of the behavior that clings steadfastly to an incorrect view of reality. It’s called denial, and while counselor educators are able to teach graduate students to recognize this trait, they are evidently not able to do so themselves, at least when it comes to their own attitudes about improved training in college counseling.
The College Board report may be the tonic that leads counselor educators to acceptance-- but like all clients going through the five stages of grief, their recovery is best supported with the help of a wise counselor…
…and that’s where you come in. Now that College Board has joined Public Agenda and other studies in calling for counselor training reform, school counselors must show their gratitude for this work by taking action. Five minutes is enough time to e-mail the director of your counselor training program and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (go to http://www.acesonline.net/contact/) and call on them to put the real needs of students first by adding a required, comprehensive college admission counseling class to their master’s programs.
Another three minutes is all it takes to contact the American School Counselor Association (firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>) and CACREP (go to http://www.cacrep.org/detail/contact.cfm) to ask them to end the circular blame game where counselor educators feel bound by CACREP standards, and CACREP leaves the standards as is because counselor educators aren’t demanding they be changed.
College Board has harvested a bumper crop of counselor opinion, leaving counselors an opportunity to sow seeds of meaningful change in the way future counselors are trained in college admission counseling. As busy as we all are, eight minutes is all the time you need to be a hero and not a turkey; since we all know what students and counselors really need, and what happens to turkeys at this time of year, the choice couldn’t be clearer.