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High School Counselors: The Weakest Link

Are high school counselors the weak link in the college admissions process?
I've believed that for quite awhile and a new survey released today by Public Agenda clearly supports that reality.

Before I get into the specifics of the Public Agenda survey, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, here's some background to support my case:

Counselors typically must receive master's degrees to work in public high schools, but what's really bizarre is that these grad programs rarely include any courses in college counseling. It's a national scandal that I've written about during the past year:

What High School Counselors Don't Understand About Financial Aid
Why High School Counselors Don't Know Much About College
10 Things About College That High School Counselors Don't Know
What High School Counselors Don't Know (But You Should)
The Public Agenda report indicates that high school counselors would be flunking out of their jobs if they were graded like their students. The survey interviewed Americans, ages 22 to 30 years old, who had attended at least some college.

Here are key findings from the Public Agenda report:

67% Felt their high school counselors did a fair or poor job of helping them decide what school was right for them.

48% Felt their high school counselors saw them as just another face in the crowd.

62% Said their high school counselors did a fair or poor job helping them explore different potential careers.

54% Said their counselors did a fair or poor jobs explaining and helping them with the application process.

What's striking about this is that students reserved their scorn for their high school counselors -- not teachers.

Clearly all this bad counseling is hurting students and parents. When students don't understand the college admission process, including financial aid, they tend to make poor decisions.

I say let's send high school counselors back to school.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes about college at TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.

High school counselor image by alohavictoria. CC 2.0.

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