How To Decide If Being A School Counselor Is Right For You

by Chatter DC News

Are you interested in a career where you can help young people to achieve their full potential? Would you like to support students as they navigate some of the most influential years of their life? If so, a job as a school counselor could be perfect. It enables you to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of those in your care, not only academically but also personally. To help you figure out if this path is the right one for you, this post gives you more information about what the job entails, what you’ll learn while qualifying for the position, and the skills you’ll need to succeed.

The role of a school counselor

As a school counselor, you will be tasked with a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. These can be broadly categorized into four main areas, with your precise role depending on the age of the students in your care:

Academic support

  • Helping students to work out where their strengths and interests lie and choose which classes to take
  • Evaluating students’ abilities and skills
  • Supporting those who are struggling academically, for example, by working on study skills and habits
  • Assisting students with setting and achieving realistic but challenging goals
  • Working with students on applications for college and scholarships

Career guidance

  • Advising students on the different career paths they could take
  • Helping young people to discover and then achieve their career goals
  • Assisting with applications for jobs and resume writing
  • Providing advice on how to develop life skills such as organization and time management

Emotional support

  • Helping students who suffer from mental health issues such as low confidence, anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Supporting those in your care who are struggling with social issues such as bullying
  • Mediating conflict, whether between different students or students and members of staff
  • Having an open-door policy so that students can drop in at any time to talk about any concerns they have

Administration

  • Maintaining student records
  • Having input on relevant school services and policies
  • Liaising with other staff members, parents, and guardians where necessary
  • Referring students and families to external professionals or resources when appropriate

Studying to be a school counselor

In order to become a school counselor, you will need to obtain a higher degree. These days you can either study on campus or take an online master’s in school counseling for a more flexible learning experience. Whichever you choose, you will complete a series of modules on a wide variety of relevant topics. The specific curriculum available to you will depend on the course you enroll on, but the following list gives you a good idea of what to expect:

  • Principles of School Counseling
  • Roles and Responsibilities of a School Counselor
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Counseling Techniques
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Counseling for College and Career Readiness
  • Crisis Intervention, Trauma Response, and Emergency Management
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Educational Assessment and Intervention
  • Educational Research
  • Foundations of Education
  • Management of School Counseling Programs
  • Psychological Testing
  • School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation
  • Special Education and Learning Disabilities
  • Ethical and Legal Issues in School Counseling

You will also have the chance to participate in mock counseling sessions with your peers before undertaking internships. During the latter, you will work in a real school under a qualified school counselor’s guidance to gain valuable feedback and advice.

Skills you need to be a great school counselor

Your master’s degree will teach you the skills and knowledge required to become a school counselor, however, there are also a number of traits and transferable skills that will be necessary if you want to truly excel in the role. For example, these include:

  • Communication – you will be working with students of all different ages and backgrounds who are dealing with a wide range of different issues. Not only that, but you’ll also be liaising with teachers and families too.
  • Patience – some students will be shy, reluctant to open up to you, or perhaps even hostile. Therefore having the patience to work with them over time and build up a relationship of trust is critical.
  • Adaptability – you must be prepared to see students at a moment’s notice if they need you and handle all the unexpected situations that could arise
  • Compassion – this will ensure you can put yourself in the shoes of those in your care and help them to the very best of your ability
  • Integrity – you will be a role model for the students at your school, so it’s vital to always be professional and act like someone that they can look up to.

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