Job Title: High School College Counselor
Type of Company: I work for a private Catholic school on Long Island.
Education: BA, Psychology, Fairfield University M.Ed., Counseling, Hofstra University certificate, School Counseling
Previous Experience: I did an internship at an all-boys private high school while in college. I also was a teaching intern for a college-level psychology class, which was a great experience but further reinforced that I did not want to become a teacher.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility as a college counselor in a high school is to advise students (mainly juniors and seniors) and their families on the college application process. My director and I are the college counselors, but we also work with the guidance counselors who focus on academic, psychological, familial, and social issues with the students.
It is my job to know how to apply to college, what is required for the application, what standardized tests a student should take and when... how do you send those scores to the college, how do you apply for financial aid, what scholarship options are available for students, etc.
A typical day for me in the fall includes scheduled meetings by period with families or students or scheduled meetings with college admissions representatives who come to the school to promote their institutions. I also tour colleges, whether it be pre-arranged or not. I have visited non-competitive and very competitive and selective colleges. The point is to learn about the college; what make it so special and different? Why would a student that attends the high school where I work want to go there?
We also host events at our high school. College night is a night where juniors and seniors and their families can come and speak with a few hundred college representatives. This is when they get talk face-to-face to admissions representatives who will potentially read their application for admission. We also have financial aid night which helps explain to the families the specifics of applying for financial aid.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is the interaction that I have with the students. I develop a relationship with them that is different from their teachers or coaches. The worst part of the job is that I do not have the time to get to know as many students as I would like. I work at a large high school, and there just isn't enough time in the day.
Job Tips: It is not a field in which it's easy to find a job. I know a lot of people who pay for a Masters degree (which is required to become a counselor, at least in New York) and are not able to find a job right away. Finding a job in this field is something that took a lot of persistence, hard work and dedication. Network, network, network. Do an internship if possible, to help you figure out if this truly is the field for you.
Additional Thoughts: Personal qualities that are important for success in the counseling career are: 1. Organization: there are a lot of factors that need to be juggled daily and it's important to keep on top of everything. 2. Patience: When working with children, even teenagers, you need to have patience.
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