I graduated high school a long time ago, and I always wondered how my life would have turned out if I had a guidance counselor in school. I had some teachers that I learned a lot from and that were encouraging, but they were focused on their curriculum. Guidance counselors provide exactly what their title implies...guidance. According to my yearbook, there were six guidance counselors. But I don't recall ever speaking to one. It is not because I don't remember those who influenced me in high school; I do recall my health teacher in ninth grade, who I only had for one semester.
A guidance counselor's job is to pinpoint at-risk children who have family issues or peer pressure problems, and help them deal with it and/or refer them to a school psychologist. My grades went down tremendously in 10th grade, right at the beginning of my future college requirements, and no one in school noticed.Their roles consist of assisting students with scholarships, applying to college, financial aid application and help with preparing the student for college life. They provide direct support service to individual students, small groups and classrooms. They are supposed to complete home visits and assessments, and develop and maintain family outreach programs and community partnerships.
In conjunction with other teachers and administrators, they conduct professional development workshops on identifying at-risk students. They interview students and their families and provide direct service to students in the classroom at least once per week. A parent can ask every day, "How was school?" but when a child is embarrassed or afraid to talk about an incident, they would be more likely to tell a stranger than their parent. Encouragement from an adult, that is not a family member, is sometimes all a child needs. Just someone to say, "You are smart....you can do it!" or, "Just ignore and walk away from that person who is tormenting you. If they don't get a reaction, they will stop."
The biggest question an adolescent has is, "Who am I?" and, "What will I be when I grow up?" A guidance counselor can help an adolescent answer those questions. An adolescent needs a person who is genuinely interested in seeing them become a successful adult and who has the keys to getting a college education paid for when the parents cannot afford it. This is an invaluable skill! I see so many adult college students that say if they would have had the right encouragement in high school, they would have made the decision to either go back to college or they would have started college earlier.