"High school students look to guidance counselors for help in making smart choices, and counselors can assist them in finding the right fit where they will best achieve success." (A Good Guidance Counselor Makes All the Difference, THE BLOG 03/12/2013 Huffington Post)
This statement is both simple and complex. A school counselor who has at least adequate support from their high school, and working with a realistic number of students looks like they are giving their students valuable assistance. A counselor with great support, and a focused mission can look amazing. A counselor who has no support, few resources, and a large caseload looks like they aren't being effective. All three of these counselors are working hard to make a difference, but the impression to students and parents, and perhaps college admissions offices can be something different.
I have been working through "The Undervaluing of School Counselors" (The Atlantic, 9/2016 James Murphy). The article talks about the heavy weight of adolescent decision-making, and how students who have less or no resources miss out on the opportunities a college education can bring because they don't know how to deal with the application process or the concept of going to college. And, "one of the most serious deficits of being a low-income or first generation student is the lack of guidance."
I will continue to read and digest this article, as I am the discussion on Public Radio's On Point yesterday--about whether the higher education system should keep affirmative action. That discussion lacked the voices of actual college students, and I wonder if there could be a program based on the values of a wider range of acceptances for all colleges and universities, not just Harvard.
When I exhibited in June at the NYSACAC conference, I met school counselors from private, public, alternative, and parochial high schools, coming from a wide range of support and resources situations, and showing so much chutzpah when being open to trying my tool. They were willing to take a chance, make it work, and weren't afraid to put their own money on the table. I would not undervalue those people, because they are supporting the future.