When you think about the schooling system, you may assume that teachers have the most considerable impact on students’ lives. Teachers spend the most time with students, so it may seem that they would form the most substantial connection and relationship. In reality, one key member of school faculties can dramatically change a student’s school experience for the better – that is the school counselor.
School counselors have one main goal: to help students succeed. That doesn’t mean only academic success. They also support students to achieve positive outcomes in other areas of their lives as well. Students can come to their school counselors for advice on social issues or anything they may be struggling with in their school or home life.
They may also need to visit the school counselor on teachers’ or parents’ recommendations due to behavioral issues. School counselors are a vital part of the educational system, and their role should not be overlooked.
What education is required to become a school counselor?
School counselors are highly educated professionals who have their master’s in school counseling through either in-person or online school counseling programs. Having a master’s is a legal requirement in almost every state to work in the educational system. Working directly with youth and having such an enormous impact on their lives requires professionals to have intensive training on academic, social, and psychological issues. Those with a master’s in school counseling understand how to develop programs based on individual needs to improve students’ lives.
What is the role of a school counselor?
School counselors have various roles, depending on which education facility that they work in. They are the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to supporting students through any challenges they face in their lives, whether that’s social challenges, issues at home, or anything impacting their academic success. A school counselor’s role is always changing and developing as they gain more experience and find better methods and ways of helping the students that they serve.
School counselors who are qualified from online school counseling programs offer support and guidance to youth as they navigate the biggest periods of development in their lives. Students deal with various social issues, such as bullying and now cyberbullying, and school counselors are the person they can go to for help. They also connect students with external resources as needed for addiction, eating disorders, or depression, which are becoming more common in youth.
For students who are struggling academically, school counselors can create tailored programs and work with teachers to ensure the students are put in a learning environment that is conducive to their success. Ultimately, school counselors drive students towards success and give them someone they can trust and go to during their time in school.
It is more important than ever that all schools have a qualified and experienced school counselor on staff who has taken online school counseling programs. As a general rule, the ASCA recommends having at least one school counselor per 250 students to allow counselors to build quality relationships with them.
Here are the reasons why school counselors are so crucial to the education industry.
1. Student support
First and foremost, school counselors are essential for providing support to all students. Traditionally, the only students who would see the school counselor were those who had behavioral issues or were in trouble for some reason. Whether students are getting fantastic marks in all their classes or skipping their studies, every student should be working with a school counselor.
Students face many challenges throughout their time in school. Even if they are doing well academically and not misbehaving, they may be struggling socially. Students won’t necessarily proactively seek out help, or they will feel guilty doing so. All students should meet with the school counselor to form a relationship with them and feel comfortable coming to them for support when they need it.
Young people do not have many people to go to when they are experiencing challenges in their life. They may not feel comfortable discussing specific issues with their parents or may even have a negative environment at home. They might think that asking for help means that they are weak or immature. That is, of course, not true, but is a common thought amongst students. Making support accessible with a school counselor will make it easier for students to get the help they need without feeling guilty.
School counselors will have further training through online school counseling programs or other master’s programs to gain a deep understanding of the issues that affect today’s youth. They can give students actionable advice and create development programs that will support their school and life success.
2. Parental support
Parents often struggle just as much as their student age children when it comes to helping them through their challenges. Parents are not counselors, and often don’t know how to support their children or give them advice when they have school problems. Some children don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about their challenges or avoid doing so if their parents can’t give them any quality advice. There can also be a disconnect between disciplinary action taken at school or home, and they often don’t align. Parents may not even be aware of what is happening with their children at school at all.
People who have taken online school counseling programs have the knowledge to offer support to parents and work with them to ensure a united approach when it comes to their children. They will often facilitate consultations between parents and teachers to discuss the child’s progress and where they are struggling. School counselors can also give parents advice and recommendations for helping children at home, including resources, educational material, or youth programs that could benefit their child.
School counselors are a tremendous asset to parents as they can provide information about services that parents can use to seek additional support like psychologists, medical professionals, or social workers. They are also great mediators and can aid in solving family disputes or quarrels between teachers and parents.
3. Teacher support
Teachers need extra support too. Teachers can often struggle to give each student the personal attention they need, especially if they have psychological, mental, or behavioral challenges. They may be an expert in their chosen subject but might not understand student psychology or help students who need extra assistance. That’s where the school counselor comes in. Students may be hesitant to listen to their teachers but will cooperate with their school counselor. School counselors work one-on-one with students and create relationships that are built on trust. Teachers don’t necessarily have the time to do this and rely on support from school counselors.
School counselors will address each student’s needs and help teachers plan activities and programs that will take the students’ needs into account. They work with teachers to understand why students may be acting in a particular way and how external factors may be at play. With training from online school counseling programs, student counselors can advise teachers on how to handle these issues. If a student has problems at home, it could impact their behavior in-class, and school counselors relay this type of information to the teachers.
On top of helping teachers with specific student needs, they also advise teachers on classroom management. They will often assess teaching styles and assist on how to address student issues more effectively, such as talking in class or misbehaving.
4. Post-secondary support
When students enter high-school, they begin to feel the pressure of having to choose a career path. They will have the option to select many of their high school courses based on what they want to pursue in post-secondary education and, eventually, their career. A 15-year-old student might have no idea what they want to do or be scared they will make the wrong choice. They might love drawing and art but are worried they can’t make a career out of it and instead enroll in math courses that they hate.
Students need a lot of support when it comes to making decisions about post-secondary education. They want affirmation that what they are doing is the right thing, which will help them be confident going forward on their path. School counselors who have taken online school counseling programs will work with students to help them discover their skills and interests to determine which post-secondary education will be the right fit for them.
They will help students look up different schools, weighing up the pros and cons of each institution. Once a student feels confident about their post-secondary path, school counselors can help them with their school applications and source student housing and any financial aid they might need.
5. Career support
The next step after post-secondary education is entering the workforce. It is another massive milestone for students and one that they require support through. School counselors working in college and universities put a considerable focus on offering career support for students. A student might be studying biology but may still be unsure which career they want to pursue their degree. Youth often have no idea where to start when they are entering the workforce. They know they want to work in their field but don’t know how to get into it.
School counselors will connect students with all the resources they need to obtain a job in their field following post-secondary education. Online school counseling programs will provide school counselors with the skills they need to source valuable and reputable resources. They will help them source internship opportunities or entry-level positions with an organization in their industry. School counselors can also aid students in resume creation and setting up online profiles such as LinkedIn, or profiles on job search platforms. They have access to many connections in various industries that students wouldn’t have access to on their own. Having school counselors for support will set students up for success as they finish their education and pursue their careers.
6. Crisis prevention and healing
School counselors who have taken online school counseling programs often know more about what is going on with students than their parents or teachers. Meeting with students regularly will allow school counselors to identify when there may be severe problems looming. Recognizing changes in a student’s behavior will allow school counselors to react and prevent anything extreme from happening. The teen depression rate is on the rise, with 20% of teens experiencing depression before reaching adulthood. With staggering statistics like this, it’s more important than ever that school counselors are there to support students and recognize when to step in. Depression can lead to self-harm, violence, eating disorders, addiction, and even suicide, and a school counselor could be the person who prevents this.
If a crisis does occur, such as a death, a school counselor is there to support students through their healing. They may not have anyone to turn to or understand how to cope with death. Young people may not have dealt with much loss or crisis in their life and need coping tools that will allow them to move forward and heal. Part of online school counseling programs is training for crisis counseling and how to handle these situations with compassion.
7. Promotes collaborative efforts
Too often, you have teachers and parents who have no connection. Both parties are teaching the same youth, but doing so individually and with no collaboration. It can often be confusing for youth as they receive conflicting information from their parents and their teachers, leading to frustration. To create a learning environment that offers students the best potential for success, there needs to be a collaborative effort. It is especially essential for students who face specific mental health challenges or behavioral issues. School counselors connect families and teachers and encourage them to work together. They also link them to community organizations and resources, which can help students with their unique issues.
With everyone working together towards the same goal, students have the best chance of being successful in their academic and social life.
School counselors are a vital part of the education industry. Taking online school counseling programs and pursuing a career in this industry gives you the chance to change the lives of hundreds, even thousands of children. Students need guidance more than ever when it comes to making big life choices. They face many social struggles during their school lives and need someone they can trust who they can go to with their challenges. School counselors will help students to achieve success and spend their years in school learning in a way that is effective for them.