High school is the final transition into adulthood and the world of work as students begin separating from parents and exploring and defining their independence. Students are deciding who they are, what they do well, and what they will do when they graduate. During these adolescent years, students are evaluating their strengths, skills and abilities. The biggest influence is their peer group. They are searching for a place to belong and rely on peer acceptance and feedback. They face increased pressures regarding risky behaviors involving sex, alcohol and drugs while exploring the boundaries of more acceptable behavior and mature, meaningful relationships. They need guidance in making concrete and compounded decisions. They must deal with academic pressures as they face high-stakes testing, the challenges of college admissions, the scholarship and financial aid application process, and entrance into a competitive job market.
Meeting the Challenge
Secondary school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. Secondary school counselors do not work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program. They provide proactive leadership that engages all stakeholders in the delivery of programs and services to help the student achieve success in school. Professional school counselors align and work with the school’s mission to support the academic achievement of all students as they prepare for the ever-changing world of the 21st century. This mission is accomplished through the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive, developmental and systematic school-counseling program. The ASCA National Standards in the academic, career, and personal/social domains are the foundation for this work. The ASCA National Model is the framework For School Counseling Programs, with its data-driven and results-based focus serves as a guide for today’s school counselor who is uniquely trained to implement this program.
Secondary School Counselors Provide:
Academic skills support
Organizational, study and test-taking skills
Post-secondary planning and application process
Education in understanding self and others
Peer relationships and effective social skills
Communication, problem-solving, decision-making, conflict resolution and study skills
Career awareness and the world of work
Substance abuse education
Individual Student Planning
Education in understanding of self, including strengths and weaknesses
Individual and small-group counseling
Individual/family/school crisis intervention
Consultation, collaboration and teaming
Program management and operation
These examples are not intended to be all-inclusive
Secondary School Counselors Collaborate with:
Parents Academic planning/support Post-secondary planning Scholarship/financial search process School-to-parent communications School-to-work transition programs One-on-one parent conferencing Referral process
Students Academic support services Program planning Peer education program Peer mediation program Crisis management Transition programs
Teachers Portfolio development, providing recommendations and assisting students with the post-secondary application process Classroom guidance lessons on post-secondary planning, study skills, career development, etc. School-to-work transition programs Academic support, learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically Classroom speakers At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success
Administrators School climate Academic support interventions Behavioral management plans School-wide needs assessments Data sharing Student assistance team development
Community Job shadowing, worked-based learning, part-time jobs, etc. Crisis interventions Referrals Career education
Secondary School Counselor Qualifications:
High school years are full of growth, promise, excitement, frustration, disappointment and hope. It is the time when students begin to discover what the future holds for them. Secondary school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. The professional high school counselor holds a master’s degree and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes on-going professional development to stay current with educational reform and challenges facing today’s students. Professional association membership is encouraged as it enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness.
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