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Letter: The Case for Guidance Counselors

The recent issue of Anton Careers & Education (March 22, 2013) contained a good deal of constructive and helpful information for high school and college students.  One item to which I take exception was the piece entitled “College Planning: Call in a Consultant”.

 

I’ve been fortunate to have had a nearly 40 year career as a high school guidance counselor and administrator in New York City and both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Most of this experience has been on Long Island.  Over that time, I have had great concerns about the use of for-profit college planning consultants.  I have found them to be, above all else, entrepreneurs who market their services in ways that only elevate the manageable level of anxiety families may experience during the college process.

Long Island is fortunate to have a high level of guidance services and an impressive cadre of school counselors. These educators are quite capable and motivated to provide students and parents with all the comprehensive tools necessary to address every facet of this process.  They do so in a balanced, objective, professional manner and in a context where they are able to assess a student in relation to peers and with input from teachers and other school professionals.  Working with the student over several years, they truly get to know the student well.

 

Private, for-profit consultants often justify their existence with the argument that school counselors are too busy to afford students the individual attention they need.  This may be true in some of the more indigent school districts where caseloads can be quite large.  Those school systems are not where you will find private consultants.  Rather you will find them in the more affluent, well-staffed school districts because, in the words of the famous bank robber Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks, “that’s where the money is”.

 

As part of the national standards for Developmental School Counseling Programs as endorsed by the American School Counselor Association, high school counselors are providing all of the services private consultants offer.  They do so at no cost to the families and do so in a student-centered rather than profit-centered atmosphere.  For this article to imply that families need to waste time, money, and energy on private services that are readily available in the high school is a disservice to the families and a sign of disrespect for the school counseling community.

 

I’m sure your piece was well-intentioned.  I just wish such supplements were devoted to information that is educational and purposeful rather than commercial and wasteful.

Thank you for your attention.

 

Richard Collins

Sea Cliff, NY