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How Can High School Counseling Shape Students' Postsecondary Attendance?

By Erin Dunlop Velez

How Can High School Counseling Shape Students' Postsecondary Attendance?Among the first to demonstrate that school counselors have a positive impact on student outcomes that is both quantifiable and statistically significant, this study provides a powerful tool for counselor advocacy efforts. 

Using nationally representative, longitudinal data collected by the US Department of Education, findings show that high school seniors who talked one-on-one with a school counselor were: 

  • 6.8 times more likely to complete a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • 3.2 times more likely to attend college
  • 2 times more likely to attend a bachelor's degree program

Other key factors that influenced students' college-going behavior included:

  • speaking with a counselor in ninth grade about going to college
  • parents speaking with a counselor by 11th grade about college
  • participating in a college preparation program outside of school
  • having close friends who plan to attend a four-year college
  • parents' expectations about college-going

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.

NACAC previously published two other reports based on the HSLS study, which examined counseling program characteristics and students' college plans earlier in high school. 

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

Download the report and view the presentation to learn more.

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