The question I often get asked is, “Can’t my son get well-prepared for college by just working with the guidance counselor and then getting a lot of his questions answered online?” In response, I usually say, “Sure, it’s possible, as long as the counselor has the preparation program and the time to walk him through it.” I then point out these sobering facts:
Schools are great at providing students with the quality courses and teachers they need to graduate. However, most schools do not have a College and Career Preparation Class coupled with ample one-on-one mentoring to help students and parents successfully navigate the confusing career, college and financial aid maze.
With the 457:1 average student-to-counselor ratio in most U.S. high schools and the 400:1 student-to-counselor ratio in most colleges, guidance counselors do the best they can to get their students and parents prepared. Having been a guidance counselor myself, what getting them prepared generally means is disseminating important information to students and parents en masse through the school website and the students' individual classes, parent nights and occasional one-on-one meetings. It means giving them most of the pieces of the puzzle they need and then letting them put the pieces together themselves.
With so many students under their care, counselors are inevitably frustrated because they do not have a proven Program, the one-on-one time to spend with students nor a time-tested decision making process to help students discern the road ahead with confidence and clarity.
The truth is that students are also not well-prepared because most parents and students are so busy that they don’t have the time nor the expertise to figure out what all the pieces of the puzzle are, let alone how to put them together so that they don’t miss anything.
With the college dropout rate being so high (54%) and so many students returning home in debt to live with their parents, the need for getting one’s career, college and financial aid ducks in order prior to college or career school is now a necessity.
From my experience, if all students needed was the correct information to make these important decisions about career direction, major and college or career school, they could just go online and get all the information they needed for free. However, it doesn’t work that way. Students (and parents) benefit greatly from being handheld through the process of self-discovery to the point where they arrive at a peaceful and joyful decision about what their next step and educational training are to be.
When all is said and done, it takes a village to help our students get on the right track and stay on that track so that they can graduate in 4 years or less in a field they love. Our youth are shaking in their boots worrying about their future. They need a step-by-step program and caring mentors, parents and grandparents to spend the many hours it takes to walk them through it.
Dave Beswick, MA, lives in Maryville, TN with his wife, 2 children and 2 dogs. He is the founder of The Journeys Program, a pathfinding program with ample one-on-one mentoring to help students and adults discover who they are (their given personality, talents, enjoyments and purpose) as the foundation for discerning the career direction that's right for them. For more information, call Dave directly at 865-661-0537.