Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

September 5, 2013

BILL STANCZYKIEWICZ: Crisis in counseling

Counselors need fewer clerical tasks, more training, accountability.

(Continued)

As the landmark study, “High Hopes, Long Odds,” concluded, “The challenge in Indiana is to show the state’s young people how to go about making their hopes and dreams come true and to make sure conditions exist in schools and communities to give them a chance.”

In schools, College Board recommends increased training and stronger accountability measures for counselors. More training for counselors results in more postsecondary readiness for students, “and the results indicate a need for improved professional development opportunities throughout counselors’ careers.”

As for accountability, College Board recommends three measures — the percentage of students who complete postsecondary prep courses, the percentage who apply to postsecondary schools and the percentage who are accepted by those schools. Most counselors, however, are measured by high school graduation rates (which do not necessarily indicate postsecondary readiness) as well as by their administration of tests and clerical tasks.

College Board also reports less than one-third of school counselors collaborate with community organizations to provide students and families with essential postsecondary information. Former College Board staff member Carol Easterday, who now is a school counselor in Westfield, concurs. “Schools have not taken full advantage of the incredible support that the community stands ready to provide,” Easterday said. “Instead of feeling isolated, we just need to be more proactive in engaging the talent we have in our own backyard.”

Parents also need to be proactive. Cynthia Cain, who is a school counselor in Crawford County, implored, “Don’t be afraid to come in. Don’t be afraid to make that phone call or send that email. Advocate for your student. Come in and see us. That’s what we’re here for.”

Families, school counselors, community organizations and mentors also can utilize several free resources located on TripToCollege.org. The website provides links to the state’s “Learn More” initiative, helps students compare college costs through the Indiana College Cost Estimator and also links to several scholarship sites.

In addition, the site allows students to enroll for Trip to College Alerts — timely text messages of vital information based on the student’s high school graduation year.

The positive impact of these many efforts will be apparent when postsecondary success and economic opportunity become everyday expectations instead of a remarkable surprise.

Bill Stanczykiewicz is president & CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. He can be reached at iyi@iyi.org.

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