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A National Look at the High School Counseling Office: What is it Doing and What Role Can it Play in Facilitating Students' Paths to College?

By Alexandria Walton Radford, Nicole Ilfill, & Terry Lew

A National Look at the High School Counseling OfficeThe second phase of a study following 2009 ninth graders checks in when the students are juniors to learn more about factors influencing students’ interest in postsecondary education. Even after controlling for other factors related to student outcomes, the study found that students who had spoken with a counselor about life after high school were more likely to also: 

  • search for college options,
  • visit a college campus for a program or tour
  • plan to enroll in a bachelor's degree program
  • plan to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Unfortunately, about half of counselors (54 percent) reported that their counseling department spent less than 20 percent of their time on college readiness, selection, and applications.

Students’ participating in a program that provides college preparation, counting more than half of their close friends as planning to attend a four-year college, and having parents who expected them to enroll in college were all positively associated with an array of key outcomes that could foster eventual college enrollment.

The US Department of Education's High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS) is following more than 23,000 students from 944 high schools who were ninth graders in 2009 to better understand their pathways to postsecondary education and the workforce. 

Download the report and view the presentation to learn more.

NACAC published two other reports based on the HSLS study, which examined counseling program characteristics and counselor impact on postsecondary attendance.

  1. Preparing Students for College: What High Schools are Doing and How their Actions Influence Ninth Graders' College Attitude, Aspirations, and Plans 
  2. How Can High School Counseling Shape Students' Postseconday Attendance?

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