School guidance counselors help students overcome problems that impede learning, well-being and development. They help students make the best plans and decisions regarding their life, education and future occupation. School guidance counselors help students develop and reach their full potential to live useful, happy and meaningful lives. They often implement developmentally appropriate groups and prevention-oriented activities to meet student needs and school goals.
Counseling and communicating with students is their first priority. They help students evaluate and understand their aptitudes and abilities through pertinent data, teacher comments and standardized test scores. They work with students to create and implement individualized academic and future plans. They provide individual counseling sessions for students who are dealing with personal issues and events that impact school performance. School counselors may provide weekly or monthly counseling sessions for small and large groups.
School guidance counselors serve as consultants to faculty concerning sensitive and important matters. They confer with staff regarding students with problems, special needs or extenuating circumstances. School guidance counselors are the primary resource for handling various behavioral, performance and mental health issues that require legal oversight. They often coach and mentor teachers on how to manage chronic issues and inappropriate behaviors. They always provide emergency support and interventions to students during crises.
These educational professionals often participate in new student orientations in order to provide information relative to school rules, procedures, curriculum and opportunities. They strive to establish cooperative relations by communicating and helping parents when necessary and if appropriate. School guidance counselors often use community resources to develop and enhance guidance services and counseling activities. Related to this, they always assist community organizations and government agencies to manage students’ needs and situations.
School guidance counselors oversee the maintenance of student records in accordance with state and federal laws. They maintain counseling logs, notes and records for legal and internal purposes. Most schools require them to assist in the administration of state-mandated, standardized tests. They may review and interpret the results and outcomes of assessment programs for counseling purposes. Some schools encourage them to contribute to the official evaluation of current materials and curriculum offerings.
School guidance counselors must have a license to counsel in their state of employment. This generally requires a master’s degree from an accredited university and completion of an approved school guidance and counseling program. The most common graduate degrees are counseling, psychology and therapy. Some schools guidance counselors start out their careers as teachers who educate students about common topics like math, science and English. School guidance counselors should know how to interpret individual school data in order to create plans and strategies for school counseling programs.
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Anyone who wants to become a school guidance counselor should explore the website of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). School guidance counselors will find local support, legal advocacy, magazine articles and professional development opportunities. They should also consult with their state’s board of education to understand the relevant licensing requirements.