School Counseling

School counselors play an essential role in helping students prepare and plan for postsecondary education. A NACAC report found that students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are 6.8 times more likely to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 3.2 times more likely to attend college, and 2 times more likely to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program. Unfortunately, too many students lack access to a school counselor who has the time and support needed to adequately advise each student.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and NACAC recommend a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1. In the 2015-16 academic year, the national average ratio was 470:1—nearly double to recommended ratio. The lower the student-to-counselor ratio, the more likely it is that school counselors will be able to spend an appropriate amount of time working with each student to create and follow a plan for postsecondary success. This time is especially crucial for under-served students, many of whom may be the first in their families to pursue a postsecondary education. School counselors are important resources for helping students to identify college options, navigate the application process, and explore financial aid.

In addition to facing unwieldy caseloads, school counselors spend much of their time on non-counseling related duties, further limiting their ability to effectively assist students with college and career planning. A 2018 NACAC report found that public school counselors spent only 21 percent of their time on postsecondary counseling, while private parochial school counselors spend only 39 percent and private non-parochial school counselors spend 54 percent of their time on postsecondary counseling. NACAC supports policies that allow counselors to spend more time on counseling services and limits their non-counseling related duties.

NACAC supports the following efforts to support school counselors:
• Reducing student-to-counselor ratios to 250:1
• Increasing funding allocations to programs such as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant under Title IV-Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act
• Ensuring school counselors have access to professional development opportunities
• Creating pilot programs to incorporate coursework on postsecondary planning into counseling graduate programs

Related NACAC Reports

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