Is a School Counseling degree right for you?
A person's childhood and school years are very influential on the rest of their life. It is during these years that we leave childhood and enter adolescence, go through the teenage stage, and grow into and become an adult. It is also during this time that a person develops his or her personality, forms their first friendships and experiences their first romantic relations, discovers their interests and passions, and makes decisions that can potentially affect what they do for the rest of their lives.
School can also be a very stressful time. Students may feel pressure or stress about getting good grades and test scores, homework, extracurricular activities, social pressures and family issues.
A school counselor provides personal and academic advice to K-12 students. Their focus is on promoting and enhancing student development, achievement, and future success. They also help students cope with stress and guide them in a positive direction.
Counselors may develop annual plans for every student and counseling curriculum lessons for individuals or groups, focusing on developmental stages of students’ growth. Counselors can use personality assessments to help students explore career and college interests, and play an important role in helping students transition between schools and grade levels.
Counselors may also have to intervene in instances such as bullying, substance abuse, and student behavioral problems. They may work with parents and family members as well, providing consultation services.
School counselors should be caring and compassionate, have great listening and communication skills, and be genuinely concerned about the well being of their students. If you’re looking to make a difference in a child’s life and want to help them take hold of their future, a career in school counseling may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Where do school counselors work?
School counselors work in private or public elementary and secondary schools. Depending upon the age-level of the students in the school in which they work, counselors may have different focuses and responsibilities with regards to the students. For example:
Elementary school counselors focus on helping students develop social and academic skills such as decision-making and study skills. They help teachers and administrators identify possible behavioral or developmental problems, and may confer with teachers and parents about children's strengths, problems, and needs.
Middle school counselors work with students and parents to develop career and academic goals and a plan for the students to achieve them. They also help students develop academic and social skills to aid in their success.
High school counselors advise students on career and academic, including college, goals. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. They also help students develop skills such as writing résumés and preparing for interviews.
Getting your degree in School Counseling
Most states require school counselors to have a master’s degree. Programs in school counseling focus on how to foster academic development, conduct group and individual counseling, and work with parents, teachers, and other school staff. Candidates in school counseling typically study psychology, sociology, or social work.
The median salary for school counselors working in state, local and private elementary and secondary schools in 2016 was $64,000.