The following is a guest post by contributor Frankie Wallace.
Yes, Career Counseling Is Necessary
By Frankie Wallace
For many students, the idea of graduating from high school is daunting. There is an undeniable sense of urgency in figuring out exactly what they want out of life and exactly how they are going to make it happen over the next few years. That feeling of standing on the edge of a nest and being forced to jump out of it is at its strongest.
Is college the right direction or is something like a vocational or technical school the right move? Regardless, how does one navigate paying for all this education? Furthermore, what does it mean to be a real adult who has to do laundry, feed themselves, and work to pay all the bills while still balancing a social life?
None of these questions have particularly easy answers, especially for students who are lacking the support and expertise to get this information from home. This is where a career counselor can come in and make a real difference in the lives of the students they counsel. Counselors in schools can provide a multitude of services ranging from career preparation advice to emotional support for traumatic situations and bullying.
Providing Career Preparation Support
Arguably the most influential role a school counselor will play in the majority of student’s lives is providing advice on career decisions after graduation. This process can start early in a student’s academic program, sometimes as early as middle school. One of the most important things counselors can do during the school year is provide advice on class scheduling. According to a College Board poll conducted on the class of 2010, nearly 40 percent wished they’d taken different classes while in high school to help better prepare them for the real world.
Unfortunately, a substantial number of students do not have the support to help them prepare for higher education after graduating, especially if no one in their family has pursued higher education before. There are a lot of unknowns that can provide serious barriers to finishing technical school or becoming a successful college student. Without the help of a school counselor for decision making and timelines, even some of the smartest students can fall through the cracks.
School counselors can provide career advice by suggesting employment paths that students may not have thought of or even knew existed. They play a pivotal role in helping students decide if college or technical school or other types of higher education is right for them and kicking off the enrollment/application process. Some studies suggest that helping students through the post-high school education application process is the most important means of boosting enrollment among students who want to go.
Providing Life Advice
In addition to offering career advice throughout the young adult years, career counselors in schools also prep students for making the transition into the real world. Making this transition can be a surprisingly difficult move for many students, especially while balancing post-high school education plans. Failure to successfully do so is often listed as a factor explaining why students drop out during their first year of college right after high school.
School counselors obviously cannot be the sole teacher of what life is like in the real world, but they can provide advice on numerous things that can make a big difference. For instance, they can help students understand the financial decisions that impact their credit score. Most students don’t have the slightest idea how important keeping a high credit score can be to making successful major purchases in the future, and often times it doesn’t come up until it is too late to fix easily.
Furthermore, school counselors can help students prepare for a successful transition into their career by offering insights on things such as developing a healthy work-life balance, maintaining and building friendships while working, and budgeting successfully. On the surface, these may not seem to directly impact the career success of graduating students, but in reality, these may be the most important little things in ensuring goals are reached.
Providing Emotional Support
Outside of career advice and preparation instruction, counselors also play a significant role in the emotional and mental support of students throughout their educational experience. Whether it is coping with anxiety over test taking, working out misunderstandings amongst friends, or combatting bullying, counselors play a role. A good school career counselor may be the single biggest factor in helping students overcome emotional barriers.
Bullying is perhaps one of the most devastating aspects of the modern educational system. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Education study, nearly 25 percent of students reported having been bullied at some point during their middle or high school careers. School counselors have an impactful role in identifying and addressing bullying through educational programming and emotional support for students working through the ramifications associated with bullying.
The emotional support provided by counselors can be life changing to some students. For instance, learning to manage workloads and anxiety can help students to balance projects successfully — an important skill both in life, in careers, and in higher education. Developing these strategies can also boost self-confidence in students, which can have substantial impacts on improving success in the classroom.
Overall, career counselors in schools are a vital component to the long-term success of students. They work towards helping them achieve their career goals through schedule planning and post-high school planning and enrollment. Furthermore, they help students through difficult emotional situations and provide tips on successfully transitioning into adult life.