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Parents and students often think they understand a guidance counselor’s role when it comes to college prep: provide the SAT or ACT schedule and some study materials, answer a few basic financial aid questions and provide college and career direction.
They also accept that college prep is hardly a guidance counselor’s only job: they have disciplinary duties, social counseling, classes to schedule and more. At some schools, they even oversee study halls and lunch duty. It’s a lot to expect when they’re under them same staffing cuts as the rest of the school.
Why expect them to handle all your college prep needs when guidance counselors make up less than 2% of school staff and on average handle twice the maximum number of students recommended by their own organization (and 8 times the number recommended by Wake Forest University)?
Public school guidance counselors have been handed the impossible task of high expectations and too few resources.
Guidance Counselor Limitations
Budget cuts and added duties mean counselors spend on average 38 minutes per year per student on college prep. That’s for everything: answering all your questions, giving you direction, providing materials, etc., etc. It’s not enough, but it’s all the time they have.
· Guidance counselors generally cannot pry into family finances when it comes to financial aid. Their answers are often general or vague, and not apropos to your family’s situation.
· Their college recommendations are often limited to schools they know well, particularly those in your area that attend College Nights. Can you get accurate information for every college on your list?
· Because counselors see hundreds of students, they may not know your strengths well enough to recommend a good college or career for you.
· Your time is limited to their time; that is, when they’re in school. They can’t offer you the same kind of on-demand college prep guidance that a private company can.
Your guidance counselor plays an important role in your academic development, but he or she may not be able to meet all your needs, including a customized plan that helps you outline all of your college and career goals. To do that, you’ll need personality tests, four-year planners, details on every college on your list, extensive career research tools, and a plan to pay for your education that puts college within your reach. That last one is a problem that has stumped guidance counselors for years.
It’s nice that your guidance counselor can provide you some helpful materials, but wouldn’t it be terrific if you had some extra guidance once you got started? You’re going to need a way to improve your SAT or ACT scores, decide which colleges are right for you and use your talents and needs to get better financial aid.
Compare RSC with Public Guidance Counselors
Some things your guidance counselor just can’t do. For a complete list of everything RSC can do to make college an affordable reality for you, click here.
College admissions deans say private guidance counselors and college prep experts like RSC are better than high-school counselors because we can be. We don’t have their limitations when it comes to helping you.
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