When you hear the title, “school counselor,” you might think of someone who makes student schedule changes and hands out college applications. While school counselors are responsible for scheduling and post-graduation guidance, they do a lot more than that. Per the American School Counselor Association (ASCA): “school counselors are certified/ licensed educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling, making them uniquely qualified to address all students’ academic, career and social/emotional development needs by designing, implementing, evaluating and enhancing a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student success.”
Not only has the role of school counselor grown, so has the need for school counselors across the country. The ASCA recommends a ratio of 1 school counselor to every 250 students. As of 2014, there were only 3 states in the U.S. that met that recommendation, with the majority of states well over a ratio of 1:400. In Colorado, the ratio was 1:395.
School districts and states across the country have taken notice of the deficit in school counseling, and many have made funding available in an attempt to fix the problem. Since 2008, Colorado has allocated over $13 million through the School Counselor Corps Grant Program (SCCGP) to secondary schools and school districts with particularly high dropout rates and low graduation rates to increase the amount of school counselors and counseling opportunities for their students.
In 2015, the U.S Department of Education awarded over $24.8 million in grants for 67 school districts across 26 states for school counseling and school mental health services. In late 2016 in Indiana, Lilly Endowment Inc. issued a request for proposals from schools in need of counseling resources, and will potentially award up to $30 million in funding across the state to hire more counselors and improve school counseling services.
What does this mean for jobs in school counseling? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 22,500 new jobs in the field, and an 8% growth overall by 2024. How can you prepare yourself for a job in school counseling? You need a Master’s degree in school counseling, which you can earn here at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver in our Counseling Psychology Master of Arts program. Our program prepares students for the School Counselor License in Colorado through the Colorado Department of Education, and allows you to work as a school counselor for children and young adults (up to age 21). Through this degree program, students have the opportunity to take interdisciplinary coursework in the areas of counseling and child development, and to complete a supervised practicum and internship in a school setting.