In a recent survey about counseling in high school developed by Public Agenda and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the results showed that stud
ents by and large did not feel their guidance counselors provided them with adequate information about the college application and financial aid process. Approximately 60% rated their high counseling experiences as fair or poor. And 48% percent felt like when they met with their counselor they were just another face in the crowd.
The realities of school funding have led to an increase in the number of students per counselor. While the American School Counselor Association believes that a ratio of 250 students for every 1 counselor is adequate, on average there are 460 students per counselor in the United States. When measured by state California has the highest ratio of students per counselor at 1,000 to 1, with many other states in the 700 to 1 category.
This lack of adequate counseling had implications across the three main areas where students needed help; choosing a career, selecting a college, and applying for financial aid. The students rated the advice on careers fair or poor at least 62% of the time. Advice on choosing the right colleges was rated fair or poor at least 67% of the time. And advice on how to pay for college was rated fair or poor 59% of the time. Of the 48% who felt they were just another face in the crowd only 41% received any financial aid to pay for college and 46% said they would have chosen a different college if money had not been an issue. A large majority or 62% of these students chose a college based solely on its perceived costs. A secondary consideration was the reputation of the school or the likelihood of getting a job post graduation. This lack of knowledge about selecting the right schools and about financial aid resulted in higher rates of postponing an education, lower graduation rates, and lower satisfaction about the colleges chosen.
Poor counseling is leading to poor choices not only when it comes to selecting a college based on a student’s career and personal development plan but also by allowing the perceived cost of the education to drive the selection process. The knowledge of the real cost of attending each individual school would surely have led to many different choices among the group polled as evidenced by the 46% who would have changed their choice of school had money been less of a consideration.