When a high school counselor begins with, “Let me be real frank with some of you,” you know you’re about to get an honest dose of reality.
That’s just what happened when high school counselor Karen F. shared the following thoughts with parents on our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group. Hundreds of parents weighed in with comments, in part because it’s rare to hear administrators give such honest accounts about what it’s really like to teach high schoolers these days.
School administrators often get blamed when things don’t go a certain way for students but the reality is that in many cases, students are told about the resources available to them but too few take advantage of them.
Following is what one high school counselor wishes all parents knew about high school, applying to college, and more.
What It’s Like To Teach Kids Today
I am a school counselor. I promise you I have conversation after conversation with your student about college planning, goal setting, and course selection. I do presentations and stay late for family engagement night every month. I send emails to students and a quarterly newsletter to families. We have a scholarship club at our school. We have 30-minute advisory sessions four times per week, and my appointment calendar is open for help.
Your kids aren’t paying attention. They’re on their phones. They’re doing TikToks in the bathroom. They aren’t attending scholarship club meetings. My last meeting had only seven students show up in a school of 1900, and we had to chase some down to apply for the guaranteed scholarships. It’s frustrating because I WANT to see all my students find a path for themselves, college or not, but it takes so much cajoling most days.
Everything Isn’t The School’s Fault
So before you start with the “school didn’t…” or the “counselor wasn’t helpful…,” I would wager a chunk of my salary that while this may be true for some schools, in the majority the school did and the counselor was — it just didn’t connect with your student. And that’s the real struggle these days. Because I show the Net Price Calculator in my presentation and kids still come back to me acting like they never saw it.
What can you do? A lot, it turns out, and here’s where I’d start:
- Attend every parent night. Attend future freshman night or academy or whatever your district has. It is a struggle to get parents at events at schools nationwide.
- Make an appointment to get to know your counselor. Do you have specific questions? Write them down beforehand and follow up afterward.
- Get to know the teachers. Use whatever system they have to stay on top of grades and assignments with your parent login. Don’t rely on your student.
- If your student needs help, do you know the resources in the community to help them develop executive functioning skills? If not, reach out to the school to ask for recommendations.
- Summer enrichment is critical — attrition is a struggle. Sign your students up for something to limit learning loss.
- Help your child find their passion, and then encourage them to dive in! — Christine F.
What do you think about this counselor’s advice? Join this and other conversations with parents like you on our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group.
Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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