2 February 2009 12:16 PM

Guidance Counselors - Why We Love Them

by Dr. Rick

The first week of February is National School Counseling Week, and as a teacher who for years relied on the expertise, advice, and generosity of colleagues in the busy Guidance Suites of various high schools where I’ve taught, I congratulate them and wish them well in one of the busiest, broadest, and least-understood jobs of the education profession.


There’s nothing like a skilled, talented, and caring school guidance counselor, one who knows what she’s doing, cares about kids, and advocates tirelessly for families.  We all have stories to tell of that special guidance counselor who got us through a rough patch, helped us get into the college of our choice, or led us through the maze of standardized test results.  We expect a lot of our school counselors, just as we expect a lot of our teachers, coaches, administrators, and bus drivers.


But since this is your week, School Counselors, here’s to you.  Why do we love you?  Let us count the ways.

  1. You care.  You’d have to.  You spend most of your time in consultation with students and parents, listening to their needs, concerns, questions, and troubles.  If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t (shouldn’t) be in your job.  Your behavior, results, demeanor show you care.
  2. You’re prepared.  It wasn’t easy getting to where you are.  You earned your university degrees and certification.  You studied sociology, psychology, communications, statistics (to understand all those standardized tests), and other related disciplines.  You interned, sought out mentors, and as you grew in your profession, took on protégés.
  3. You endure.  It’s not an easy job.  The drop-out rate is 60% within the first two years, according to The Princeton Review, even higher than teachers’ drop-out ratae.  You see people when they’re at their neediest, their most agitated, their most vulnerable, not always at their most patient and polite, even if you must be patient and polite.  That takes strength.  And endurance.
  4. You look out for us and for our kids.  You advocate for our kids as they pass through difficult stages.  You address their social, emotional, and academic needs.  You deal with their issues of peer pressure, bullying, depression, and academic challenges.  You counsel them, stretch them, nag them when necessary, and celebrate with them when they reach their goals.  You help us do these things, too.
  5. You know your stuff.  Over the years, you’ve picked up a thing or two.  You advise our teens about college entrance requirements, exam prep for those kids who need it (they all do), financial aid for those who need it (more than ever before), and which colleges and universities are good fits for them.  You help our kids develop job skills, learn how to write resumes, how to develop killer interview skills (important in this economy), and how to succeed in a job.  You recommend the courses they should take, show them how to plan and schedule, recommend the right fit for extracurricular activities, even give them tips for home and summer study.  You suggest community service activities, provide information on courses at registration time, and smooth the transcript process for kids going off to college or jobs.

You’re an ideal partner to parents and teachers, all of us working like crazy to give our kids what they need to be successful, to be lifelong learners, to go out into the world with the values, skills, attitudes, and knowledge they’ll need every day.  None of us can do it alone.  Some of us are better teachers, counselors, and parents, than others.  That’s why it’s important for us to be a good team.  When the stakes are so high – our kids’ lives – we need to have each other’s backs.  When we do it well, aren’t we a great team?


Readers, tell us about your favorite school guidance counselor.  We love stories at the Dr. Rick Blog!  Just click the “comment” button and share with us.  It’s easy.


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