To whom it may concern, specifically Mark Greenstein,
As the Guidance Department Chair of North Kingstown High School in North Kingstown, RI, I recently read your blog:
I also shared it with 300+ School Counselors from around the state. While your article starts off nicely enough and has some great points, you take a sharp nose dive when you start insulting School Counselors as a profession. Your points are not only inaccurate, but counter-intuitive to the marketing ploy you attempted when you posted on the patch.com. We could have been your biggest advocate had you not diminished the hard work we do and valued our input.
What your viewpoint doesn’t recognize that public high schools are considered comprehensive. We have to work with and address the needs of ALL students, not just the students that are college bound. We don’t have the privilege of working with only the elite students. In North Kingstown, we are very fortunate that the majority of students do attend a 2 or 4 year school. Many of them choose wisely based on affordability for their bachelor’s degree. With such large numbers of students attending Bachelor programs, the admissions game has gotten more competitive. I agree that conversations have to happen earlier rather than later in order to provide the best opportunity for admission to a good school. That said, most of these students will then have to pursue a Master’s degree in their field, because a Bachelor’s just isn’t good enough to stay competitive in the workplace. Your “blog” also fails to recognize that students are working in pressure cookers, often taking on more than they can handle in an effort to “look good” to a college admissions office. We have seen an increase in stress related disorders and anxiety amongst students trying to fit the “perfect’ mold. School Counselors work hard to promote a healthy balance for the individual student in conjunction with the other responsibilities they have. We have also witnessed the rise of students opting for a year off after senior year because of the burn out factor. We have also witnessed more colleges accepting kids a semester or even two semesters later than the fall immediately following, encouraging travel or other exploratory, feel-good options. This is a sad marketing attempt for colleges to pre-enroll for their next class by holding students hostage to getting into their dream school.
You are highly misinformed if you think counselors don’t even talk to their students until junior year. At our high school, we have arranged our caseloads so no Counselor has more than 2 grades, currently I have 9th and 11th graders and I follow each of them until graduation, we will have a strong working relationship of which I will be able to write about elaborately when the college application rolls around to us. We visit those students at least three times a year during advisory and another three times a year during classroom visits. In addition we have about 3-6 parent nights in the evenings and a large scale Career Fair open to all students. Then we meet with students as often as needed on a one-to-one basis for a whole variety of reasons. At the end of the day it is not the sole responsibility of the School Counselor to help a student jockey a position at a top tier school, it would be their parents responsibility. We guide the process and assist when needed, which is often.
Furthermore, what your “blog” fails to acknowledge is that School Counselors are often overwhelmed by the number of students they have on their caseload. Though ASCA, (American School Counselors Association), gives a guideline of 250 students to 1 counselor, I think every counselor would agree that 150 students to 1 counselor would be a more appropriate. But that does not exist very much in a public school setting. Our unions fail to recognize that, our administration fails to recognize that, and our School Committee fails to recognize that. I drool at the opportunities we might really offer to students with a more manageable caseload, but these are items that are out of the control of School Counselors. So please do not fault a School Counselor for a system they cannot control.
I suspect your post was an attempt to promote the opportunities that your company can provide, no harm in that. However, by insulting a large group of professionals in the process was an epic fail. Shame on you.
Guidance Department Chair, NKHS