No College Counseling Class, No Job

06/09/2015 11:12 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2016

A fable. For now.

"Principal Williams?"

"Yes. You must be Ms. Sanders."

"Valerie. Here to talk about the school counseling position."

"Of course. Please sit down. You've just completed your training?"

"I just earned my Master's from Southeast Michigan State, and completed 600 hours in internship."

"And what have you learned about counseling?"

"That students need our help more than ever, and I love helping them."

"And how do you help them?"

"Oh gosh. Stress management, crisis intervention, anti-bullying curriculum. I have sample lesson plans if you'd like to see them."

"Very nice. All very important."


"What about college and career readiness?"

"Just as important."

"Our parents would agree. Do you have any lesson plans for those areas?"

"College and career? Yes. I have a lesson here on resume writing."

"Resume writing."

"Right. I learned about that in the career counseling class I took last year."

"And resumes help with applying to college?"


"That isn't what my son tells me."

"Your son is a school counselor?"

"No. My son is a college freshman, who just went through the process. He tells me colleges don't want resumes anymore."


"Did you have any coursework in college advising?"

"Oh yes."

"I don't see that on your transcript."

"Well, I didn't have a course in college advising. It was taught in several of my classes."

"Which ones?"

"Well, we learned about the SAT in our testing class, and we did a college search in our career class."

"Anything else?"

"I learned a little about financial aid during my internship."

"What else did you learn in your internship?"

"Frankly, that my supervising counselor didn't know much about college counseling. She said she never had a course in it, and had to learn most of what's really important on the job."

"And you don't think she's learned all that much?"

"To be fair, it's hard. You're just so busy seeing kids, you don't have time to learn."

"Yet, you didn't have a class in college advising either."

"No, but like I said..."

"You learned it in several of your classes."


"So, if I had a senior with a 3.6 GPA and an ACT score of 26 who wants to study Biology, and prefers small classes, what are his options--given that her parents have a limited income?"

"Oh. Um, well."

"Anything come to mind?"

"I'm--I'm afraid not."

"OK. Valerie, since you would be replacing a retiring counselor, I also have the option of hiring an independent college consultant to run the college advising part of the school's curriculum."

"Oh, sir, you wouldn't want to do that. School counselors have training in mental health areas college consultants just don't have."

"True, but I'd still have two school counselors. The third member of the team would focus on college, and she has specific coursework in college advising. It's on her transcript."

"But I just told you I have college training."

"Right. Is it on your transcript?"

"Well, no. But cutting a school counselor--"

"--means I'd get someone with a stronger background in college advising who has a credential in college advising, and who won't have to learn on the job, all at a savings to the district."

"But... but..."

"Valerie, thank you for coming in. Do you have any questions?"

"Yes, sir. That student you mentioned with the interest in Biology. Where did he end up going--or was that just a fictitious student?"

"He'll be at McGowan College in the fall. That's my son."

"Oh. So it is a real student."

"Yes, Miss Williams. Very real."