My senior is about to meet his 5th guidance counselor in 4 years of high school. Actually, only 3 because he’s just starting his 4th year. I think that’s a shame. I remember my guidance counselor from high school, Mr. Bianchi. He was this short little man with glasses and a mustache. By the time I graduated, he knew me well.
Justin is not going to have that advantage.
In light of that, here are 3 things I think are important in a good guidance counselor:
The counselor Justin will have this year is brand new to the school. I know nothing about her but her name. None of the counselors I’ve talked to so far are familiar with service academy application procedures. I’m having to tell them what little I know in the hopes that it’s the right thing.
It’s been pretty frustrating.
They’ve all been very nice and accommodating, but what I want is expertise. We have a friend who is the head of guidance at a big Christian school in our area. She has helped a large number of her students apply for service academies. She has been my go-to person when I have specific questions, but she can’t help us beyond giving advice since she doesn’t have access to Justin’s file. She has volunteered to do a mock interview with him before he has to do the real thing with the nomination committees. We’re very grateful for that.
Her school is one of privilege. Our school is a Title-1 school, meaning we’re poor. I think Justin is the first one to ever even apply to an academy. What I want is for them to assure me that they will ask around and find someone who does know something to help them. I want them to be proactive. I think I’m delusional to think that will happen.
I think it’s important that a counselor is available, or readily returns calls or emails, especially for their senior students. I understand summer breaks, I really do, but at the end of last year, and over the summer, I have communicated with 3 different counselors to try to get the information Justin needs for his Air Force Academy application. When 1 would start to help us, she would then leave on vacation and be unavailable. I had to go through the principal and assistant principal to try to find someone in guidance who could help us. Now, he’s got a brand new counselor who just started this week. I haven’t been able to have any contact with her at all. I left a message this morning on her direct line. I left a message yesterday on the general guidance line. I so understand that 3,000+ students are about to descend upon them, but communication is key.
3. Personal interest
I understand the first change in counselors Justin experienced because our high school has a separate freshman campus with 2 guidance counselors for the 500+ students there. But to have so much turnover from sophomore to senior years is concerning to me. Beyond that, I just want to know that his guidance counselor is positioning him to have the best opportunity to do what he wants to do. How can she do that if she doesn’t even know who he is? We still have college applications ahead of us, as a plan B if he doesn’t get the Academy nomination or appointment. I’m so much more depending on friends than I am the school.
So, hopefully this week, as schedules come out and I go on campus to meet Justin’s teachers—which actually isn’t really necessary since he’s only taking 2 classes on campus, both from instructors I already know—I will also meet his new counselor. Maybe I’m wrong about her. Maybe she comes from another school in which she had lots of opportunities to help with service academy applications. I sincerely hope that is the case.
What have you found most helpful about your guidance counselors? I’d love to hear your stories.
image from classroom.jc-schools.net