Published Online: January 10, 2001
Published in Print: January 10, 2001, as Colleges

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Collegiate Advice: While a recent study shows that most high school students meet with guidance counselors and find their advice helpful in making decisions about college, counselors overall have little influence over students' final postsecondary education choices, it says.

The study, released last month in studentPOLL, a quarterly research report for colleges and universities, was sponsored by Embark, an online resource for students, and the Art and Science Group, a higher education consulting firm.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 500 students polled in April of their senior year as they were making their final choices on college. The participants included a mix of students with qualifying sat or act scores. Gender, geography, intended major, and family income were also considered.

Campus visits and parents had the most influence over students' final college choices, the study found. Guidance counselors ranked near the bottom of students' lists.

The poll found that 74 percent of college-bound teenagers met with school counselors. But it also revealed that minority students, girls, and students from low-income families met with their guidance counselors more often than white males and that they typically were more satisfied with the quality of advice they received.

Asked about the length of meeting times with counselors, 60 percent of minority students reported spending more than one hour with a counselor per session, compared with only 36 percent of their white peers. Female students spent an average of more than 21/2 hours.

Ninety-three percent of minorities and 89 percent of girls, compared with 80 percent of white boys, characterized those meetings as "very helpful" or "somewhat helpful."

Students with SAT scores less than 1100 and ACT scores less than 24 also were more likely than students with higher scores to report that such meetings were helpful.

While students ranked the Internet last, more than two-thirds of the students who received advice from a counselor reported that the counselor had recommended using the Internet to obtain information about college or to apply online.

Satisfaction with counseling and frequency of meetings with counselors, the survey found, do not vary dramatically with high school size or type. Eighty- three percent of private school students reported meeting with a counselor, compared with 72 percent of public school students. Similar differences were found for students in small and large high schools.

—John Gehring

Vol. 20, Issue 16, Page 12

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