School counselors are tasked with helping students achieve academic goals and personal, social, and professional development; they also help improve new students’ adjustments to school. Those who work in high schools may help students with college choices and serve as liaisons between students and college recruiters.
School counselors work closely with parents/guardians of problematic students and may work with students in either individual or group settings, or both. They may meet students/parents in person, by phone, e-mail, or via the "contact" section of their organization's websites. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are important in this position, as are interpersonal skills and the ability to work efficiently and objectively with diverse students and co-workers. The ability to speak a second language, such as Spanish, is beneficial but not necessary.
School counselors must be able to maintain computer databases related to students' records and counseling progress, so computer skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) are important for administrative tasks. Because school counselors work with children, they are required by law to pass strict background checks, including state and federal criminal history records and drug tests. A bachelor's degree in psychology, social studies, education, or a related field is generally required for this position, and school counselors must conduct ongoing research and attend conferences to improve their guidance programs.
School Counselor Tasks
Intervene in dangerous, challenging, or stressful situations to provide a peaceful, safe environment.
Listen to students and enable them to connect with support services, teachers, parents, and others.
Consult with parents or teachers on appropriate strategies, communication methods, and obstacles.
Communicate with students, identify obstacles to progress, and work together to overcome them.
Identify and communicate special needs and mental health challenges.