By Rachel Williams, NACAC Communications

Arlington, VA (November 14, 2023) – Partnerships that better connect students to postsecondary education and career opportunities are the future, said Angel B. Pérez, NACAC CEO, in a virtual panel discussion hosted by New York City Public Schools’ Office of Student Pathways.

In the Nov. 7 webinar, Pérez was joined by New York City Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr., and Office of Student Pathways Executive Director of College and Career Planning Kristen Harris. These educational leaders spoke of a turning point in education, where the traditional systems of counseling students through educational and career choices must be overhauled to truly meet students’ needs today.

“The No. 1 thing I tell people and counselors is this is not business as usual,” said Banks. “We have to think outside of the box. We have to fully embrace and continue to educate ourselves about the changes happening, because the world of work is changing at a rapid pace. If we want to meet this moment and really prepare our kids so they can be successful and have a successful career trajectory, we have to make sure that we are ready as educators. It [college advising] has to have a greater level of intentionality.”

King said at State University of New York public colleges and universities, the long-term goal is for every student to have an internship experience because that can help translate to a clear vision for their career. He also said a priority is to ensure that students know the options available to them.

“If you’re a low-income student, you’re in foster care, or you attend a high-needs school, applications are always free for you at SUNY. I don’t know if students know that,” he said. “When students think about college, they often just think about four-year degrees, but we’ve got 30 community colleges where students can get associate degrees that translate into great jobs.”

Pérez advocated for strategic partnerships that lead to greater counseling resources for students. He applauded the San Antonio Independent School District in Texas that partners with community-based organizations to place counselors in schools that are lacking them. He also advocated for greater professional development for high school counselors.

“The reality of the matter is the business of college admission is a business of relationships,” Pérez said. “When we gather together, we learn the trends, the college and career programs and their changes, and how to advise students. If we don’t let our high school counselors out of the building, we’re failing our young people.”

The traditional school of thought is that counselors need to be at their desks every day to do the work, said Pérez.

“But if we don’t give them the time and space to learn how the industry is shifting, we’re not giving them the tools and we’re disempowering them, and as a result disempowering our young people,” he said.