Student Well-Being

Tight Economy Drives Cutbacks in High School Counselors

By Catherine Gewertz — September 24, 2009 1 min read

Barely milliseconds after a new report offered vivid illustration of how much students need help applying for college financial aid, we get a survey telling us that some of the folks who could help them do that are getting cut from high school payrolls.

A survey released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that tight economic times are driving freezes or cutbacks in the counseling staffs at the vast majority of high schools.

Troubling, especially in light of a new report showing how important it can be for students to get help filling out the complicated FAFSA financial aid form. That difficulty can prove a stumbling block to college application and enrollment. (See my story about it here; blog item here.)

High school counselors are already so strapped that they can’t give much help, if any, on college advising and applications. Cutbacks could only make that situation worse. At some schools, I know, those duties are handled by a career and college counselor, to take the burden off of guidance counselors, who rarely have that sort of training. I wonder if budget cuts are eliminating some of these positions, as well.

Speaking of cutbacks that affect the high-school-to-college pipeline, take a look, too, at this new report from the University of Alabama on cutbacks at the community college level. And this is happening just as the two-year colleges are experiencing a rising tide of interest and enrollment, fueled by the need for retraining in a rough economy, and a high-profile push from the presidential administration to boost Americans’ educational attainment. Inside Higher Ed has a story on the study, as well.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.