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Old 01-17-2009, 07:47 PM
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I am asking from the perspective of the parents and students. My sons' high school has a large guidance staff, and I can't figure out what I should realistically expect from them.

My senior has an IEP, and has received no help at all selecting a college that would be a good fit for him. His case manager is now making suggestions, but during his junior guidance meeting, his counselor handed him a list of state schools, and that was it.

My junior is an excellent student, and can probably get into his choice of schools, but has gotten no direction on what classes he should be taking, what schools he should aim for, etc. I have him looking at entrance requirements now, and am trying to help him pick his courses for next year.

Both boys have the same counselor, who is actually the head of the department, so I don't have anywhere else to go. I have spoken to this man, but don't feel as though he cares about these kids. I had to suggest the ACT might be better for my senior after he bombed on the SAT, and then tried to get the counselor to help me figure out if his ACT score was acceptable for a 4 year university. He replied "Probably".

When we lived in Florida, my oldest was in a private school, where the seniors were all assigned to the same counselor. There was no way she could give individual attention to the entire class, so she spent her time getting the top 10% into the colleges they wanted.

I wondered if they were supposed to handle discipline, but that seems to be the job of the assistant principals. So, what should they be doing, and do we really need them? When I was in high school we had regular yearly meetings that included our grades, class selection, and future plans. Is that no longer the responsibility of these counselors?
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:47 AM
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Our public high school has about 1,000 students, three guidance counselors and one psychologist. The counselors divide up the students by alphabet and have the same students all four years. The psychologist helps the kids with special needs with regular problems and picking classes but I think the regular guidance counselors give any of the college advice. Our counselors meet with each child once a year freshman, sophomore and junior year in mid January to early Feb, to help pick out classes for the fall. Senior year they meet with each student probably twice in the fall and then as often as needed as they go through the college application process. How often they meet has more to do with the students interest or parents pushiness then class rank. It's not unusual to have a meeting with the counselor, parent(s) and student.

Personally, I found it much more enjoyable to be my kids guidance counselor for the college search. There are so many things to look when picking a college that I think it's next to impossible for a public school guidance counselor to do a good job.

It is really hard to pick classes to make them count for an unknown college. Very generally speaking, Four years of the core subjects - Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and Science- plus two or three years of a foreign language will cover the requirements of most four year colleges.

I also found the PARENTS section of college confidential to be very helpful - Parents Forum - College Discussion for black and white information about colleges I looked at College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics and I found this site CollegeData: College Search, Financial Aid, College Application, College Scholarship, Student Loan, FAFSA Info, Common Application helpful to plug in my child's stats and get a guesstimate if they would get in and how much it would cost.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:25 AM
Location: Tennessee
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From my perspective as a high school special ed teacher, a guidance counselor's job is to formulate a class schedule for each year. Your 12th grade son's case manager should be a major help with transitioning out of high school. Many colleges have a Disability Office that helps students with modifications while in college. Most guidance offices have colleges come in to talk to students and have a sign up list for students. Your sons should routinely drop in to the office to check out which colleges are coming and to look at the brochures that should be available. Personally, my high school counselor never met with me when I was in high school. My sister was in the top 10 of her class, and her counselor worked tirelessly to help her find a college. You may have to advocate for your kids in this issue. Stay on the counselor's back but do your own research, too.
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