When it comes to advising students on college and career choices, a majority of young adults with college experience rate their high school guidance counselors as “fair” or “poor,” says a survey released last week.
For their report, researchers from Public Agenda, a polling and research group based in New York City, contacted a nationally representative sample of 600 young adults with at least some postsecondary education. Of that group, 67 percent said their high school guidance counselors had done a fair or poor job of helping them decide on the right school. Sixty-two percent said their counselors were just as unhelpful in giving career advice, and nearly half reported that they believed their counselors saw them as another “face in the crowd.” The study also finds that students who got perfunctory counseling in high school were more likely to delay college and to make more questionable higher education choices.
By the same token, the report also points out that guidance counselors face daunting workloads. While the average high school counselor across the nation is responsible for 265 students, student-to-counselor ratios are two and three times higher in some states, it says.
In the end, the study concludes, college-going students need better advice from adults when they are in high school. “At the very least,” it says, “they deserve the opportunity to talk seriously with adults—counselors, teachers, family members and others—who take a strong personal interest in their futures and have the time and skill to guide them through this period of decision and change.”
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle, the report is the second of three surveys exploring young peoples views of college and higher education.
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Guidance Counseling