BAD COUNSELING. . . AGAIN

I saw my guidance counselor only once during my four year career in high school.
Actually, I saw her when I was in ninth grade and she came over to talk to all of the 9th graders about what to expect at Forest Hills High School the following year. I never saw her again. That means I never saw a guidance counselor more than once in my whole life. I saw a counselor at Queens College in the Spring of 1957 when she told me that the chances of me coming back to college after being in the Army was 1%.

Carol got some really good advice when she was in high school. She was told by her guidance counselor that she would never get into college and would surely not ever become a teacher. As you can imagine both of us have had some suspicions about counselors ever since. In response to this  blog, a friend of mine, very successful in higher education, reported that his guidance counselor told him that he would not make it to college. Therefore enlisted in the marines and later found himself in a dead end job. He then realized that he had the talent to go to college.

In my forty five year career in education, I have run into some wonderful people who have gone into the guidance field. I can actually name some of the great ones- like John Rohrbach in Kutztown, John Garman at Galeton, Martha Wolf at Otto-Eldred , Wayne Crawford at Cowaneque Valley, Doug Van Skiver at Whitesville, Cheryl Sottolano at Williamson, Tom Reynolds at Oswayo Valley, Susan Tree at Westtown School, Karen Mason and Wyoming Seminary and many more.

I have also run into some really bad ones. How about the counselor who did not know that there was such a school as Lehigh University and would not help getting a kid into that school. He did finally go to Lehigh. How about the counselor who told me that there was no reason for a counselee of hers to go to an Ivy League school when she went to a state school and that was good enough for her.

Counseling is a tricky thing. Do you tell the counselee the truth or do you soft soap the child and tell them what they want to hear. If you tell them the truth, from your perspective, is it the correct perception of the child. Good counselors know how to do it. They look at the student from many differing angles. They just don’t look at the IQ score, the SAT school, the GPA, the scores on the many achievement tests, and so on. They get to know the student from as many angles as possible. They speak to the parents, they will talk to other staff members, administrators, maybe even old guidance counselors and elementary teachers. They just don’t go out and say dumb things.

Many superintendents have contrary feelings about counselors. Some even use them as sounding boards when they are in tense situations. Good counselors are used to it. The supe comes in, sits on the couch ( usually a piece of furniture that almost all good counselors have) and unload. It is cathartic. The superintendents know that the counselor will keep it to themselves. That’s the story with good counselors. Bad counselors never see the superintendent.

When you see the counseling staff at a school being diminished by some act of administration- hold up for a while and wonder why. Today, a good friend of mine told me the bad counselor story. His daughter went into a career counselor’s office to visit for the first time. The outcome of the meeting was that the young lady was told by the counselor that, although she has a B or B+ GPA she was never going to be a teacher, or even get into a college. It still goes on. Fortunately, the young lady did not believe the counselor and neither should we. Just ask Carol.

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