Last March, in a blog post entitled The Florida public schools’ student-to-counselor ratio, aka “Do we really want to be average?, we decried the fact that Florida public high schools’ student-to-counselor ratio in 2013-14 exactly matched the national average. Result? An average of only about five and one-half minutes of face-to-face time between student and counselor each week (based on the absurd assumption that counselors spend all of their time working with individual students). And we presented information showing why that assumption was absurd. In short, the sheer weight of numbers and paucity of time precluded school counselors from giving our students – our children, our future leaders and future contributors to the welfare of our society – the individual attention needed and deserved.
Surely given the knowledge that this abysmal situation existed, action has been taken and things have gotten better in Florida’s public high schools, right?
Wrong: The latest data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) show that Florida high schools’ student-to-counselor ratio was about 8% worse than the national average, ranking 38th among the 50 states.
The problem is clear, as is the solution: A combination of more counselors and/or fewer students and/or different counselors’ duties would result in more time available for working with individual students. Unfortunately, absolutely none of this has happened, and one of the most important tasks for high school counselors – advising students about college and helping them get in – is being sacrificed.
According to the latest issue of LINK for COUNSELORS, a publication aimed at high school counselors,
As their caseloads expand and high school counselors meet the increasingly complex needs of today’s students, some experts say one part of their critical work is suffering: the effort to help kids get into college.
College exploration, finance and admissions today is [sic] more complex and involves [sic] more students with a wider variety of backgrounds – an increasing number from families unfamiliar with the process.
Studies show beyond their traditional responsibilities that more of a counselor’s efforts are devoted to discipline issues, course scheduling and other administrative roles within a high school. In some districts, counselors supervise standardized testing programs or serve as substitute teachers or fill with other staffing gaps.
We can’t solve this problem on a state-wide or even district-wide basis, because we can’t grab the powers that be by their shoulders and shake sense into their heads regarding the critical importance of guiding high school students as they apply to college.
But we can and do make – and have made for 30+ years – critical differences in the lives of students and their families by providing individual, face-to-face counseling at all stages of the college planning process. Give us a call at 561-241-1610 to find out how we can make a critical difference in your life, too.