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Embracing the Role of the School Counselor

In the Harvard Graduate School of Education paper “Pathways to Prosperity,” the message was clear: Career counseling is lacking in American secondary education. While historically parents and school counselors have helped students develop career pathways, more than half of students reported to the American School Counselor Association that no one in their school is helpful in career advising. Exacerbating this issue is the high current average ratio of students to guidance counselors in the U.S.—479:1, rather than the recommended 250:1.

Counselors should recognize that many students are unable to find their way in today’s economy, and educators need to do more to help ensure their success. While educational “equal opportunity” is often defined as possessing a four-year college degree, it should mean that all students have an opportunity to learn what is necessary to succeed in a chosen career. The challenge is to both help students develop awareness of the range of available careers in a changing workplace and also teach students how to connect their interests and skills in a way that leads to rewarding career opportunities.