ERIC Identifier: ED291016
Publication Date: 1987-11-00
Author: Shill, Karen
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Precollege Guidance and Counseling. Highlights: An ERIC/CAPS
Counselors are entrusted with the major responsibility of helping students
make appropriate choices and decisions for the future, and are therefore
involved with the critical processes of student development and transition.
Spurred on by the recent impetus toward reform and concern with promoting
excellence in education, the counseling field has recently been engaged in
self-examination. In September 1984, the Trustees of the College Board appointed
a 21-member Commission to review the evolution and current condition of
precollege guidance and counseling, and to render judgments and recommendations.
Their report, entitled KEEPING THE OPTIONS OPEN, was published in 1986. The
National College Counseling Project (NCCP), formed in September 1983 and
sponsored by the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC),
sought to examine the status of college counseling in schools across the
country, analyzing the role of precollege counseling in enhancing student
aspirations and helping students gain admission to college. Their analysis,
reported in FRONTIERS OF POSSIBILITY, was also published in 1986.
THE COUNSELOR AND TRANSITION TO COLLEGE
The Decision to Enter College. Studies show that the greatest determinant of
who goes to college is socioeconomic status. Parents and counselors are the
primary influences. The decision is very different for first- and
second-generation college entrants. Students who are most likely to depend on
the school are those whose parents have not experienced college. Lee and Ekstrom
(1987) report that 56 percent of public high school students report some
counselor influence; this is particularly true for blacks, females, students in
the academic track, and those who plan to attend four-year colleges. Chapman,
O'Brien, and DeMasi (1987) found that one in five students never discussed
college plans with a counselor.
Counselor Role. Counselors play a crucial role in the student's passage
through the educational process. They facilitate decision-making and access to
appropriate courses and experiences to help students address immediate and
long-term goals. In public schools, scheduling and discipline take precedence
over precollege counseling in the use of counselors' time (Lee and Ekstrom,
1987). Though the student to counselor ratio limits the practical availability
of counseling, Chapman and DeMasi (1984) indicate that 20 percent of counselor
time is used for college advising and that counselors report satisfaction with
Counseling Effectiveness. In some studies, precollege advising has come under
a great deal of criticism. Though students appreciate counselors' functioning in
other spheres, Chapman and others (1987) found low-income students indifferent
to the counselor's role in assisting with postsecondary preparation. College
advising by the school counselor is especially important in low-income and
minority families where parents are unable to offer first-hand information on
college life, selection, and financial aid. Chapman and others (1987) and Lee
and Ekstrom (1987), however, found that counselors often devote more time to
college-bound, middle- and upper-income white students. Though blacks have
significantly more counselor contacts than others (mostly regarding financial
aid), in general, low-income students do not use counselors as much as other
EQUITY IN COUNSELING
Family income is the major determinant of the education a student receives
(Lee and Ekstrom, 1987). Counselors are in a position to help overcome the
considerable inequities evident in education, provided that school systems give
them the support and resources necessary to carry out their responsibilities.
Access to Counseling. Lee and Ekstrom (1987), on examination of the national
longitudinal database, HIGH SCHOOL AND BEYOND, found differential access to
counseling by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, aspiration level and
ability. Also pertinent were size and location of schools, school resources, and
expectations of the community. Access to counseling is thus acting as a social
stratifier, possibly magnifying the differences in outcomes of secondary
schooling. Students planning to attend college are more likely to seek
counseling for planning their high school programs than are students without
aspirations for higher education. Hispanics, whose attrition rate is
particularly high (Ramon, 1985) and whose expectations of success in completing
college are low, make less use of counseling services.
Tracking. Students who lack access to counseling are more likely to be placed
in the nonacademic curriculum track. Counseling for tracking is necessary at the
beginning of a student's high school career, and neglect in this area has caused
many students, especially minorities and low-income students, to lack adequate
preparation for postsecondary education, thus perpetuating a situation of
disadvantage. Choice of track is also tied into expectations. Vocational-track
students presumably take coursework to match their career plans, but general
track students have the least focus in their curricular programs and require
correspondingly more assistance in making wise choices regarding appropriate
employment or continuation of education. The Commission on Precollege Guidance
and Counseling (1986) recommends that less talented students need to be in more
flexible programs, moving up as competency improves and is demonstrated.
Counseling must interpret to all students what is necessary for postsecondary
educational access in order to help students overcome socioeconomic barriers.
TIMELINES IN PRECOLLEGE COUNSELING
The Elementary Years. Work with parents on supporting students' belief in
their own capabilities.
Middle or Junior High School. (1) Develop aspirations and sustain motivation;
(2) promote effective study skills (notetaking, memorizing, etc.); (3) aid in
clarification of values, decision-making; (4) differentiate among programs and
courses, clarifying consequences of choices; (5) discuss graduation
requirements, electives, required courses; (6) review testing history, decide on
levels of secondary subjects; (7) schedule subjects (family decision) based on
testing and academic experiences; (8) introduce guidance resources--counseling
services, guidebooks and publications, computer programs, and video systems; and
(9) suggest the possibility of college and the availability of financial aid.
Ninth Grade. (1) Schedule family meetings and individual conferences on
course decisions; (2) present resource materials; (3) provide access to
academic, career, and vocational counseling; (4) organize group meetings,
college and career planning nights; (5) review academic progress, determine
future course selection; and (6) counsel for study skills (time management,
memory improvement, filing, and retrieving information).
Tenth Grade. (1) Schedule family meetings on course selection, review of
future plans and academic progress; (2) organize group meetings on
college/career, financing college education; (3) encourage students to meet
college representatives, attend college fairs, career programs, financial aid
workshops; (4) provide guidance regarding goal-setting, decision-making,
interview skills, testing skills; (5) conduct a writing and speaking curriculum
unit; (6) assist in college planning--have students learn about tests, take
PSAT/SAT, meet with counselors for test interpretation, obtain counsel regarding
test-taking techniques; (7) advise college contacts--visiting college
representatives, attending college days, college fairs, career programs; and (8)
suggest students write for college materials.
Eleventh Grade. (1) Schedule family meetings on course selection, level
determination, postsecondary plans/provisional college choices, planning for
college, visiting colleges, financial aid; (2) provide testing and
interpretation of results; (3) participate in college search; (4) assist early
financial planning activity; (5) recommend students visit college
representatives, college fairs, career days, colleges; (6) help plan summer
visits, interviews, and acquisition of promotional literature; (7) have students
write for information about admissions and financial aid; and (8) suggest
discussions with students presently in college.
Twelfth Grade. (1) Arrange for family to receive schedule of admissions
testing dates and additional guidance materials, attend college planning
workshops on admissions and financial aid, visit campuses; (2) organize student
workshops on college choice, review requirements; (3) have students take tests;
(4) encourage students to seek counsel on college admissions, applications, and
soliciting references; (5) advise students to speak to college representatives;
(6) ensure that students complete and submit all admissions and financial aid
applications before deadlines; and (7) advise on replying to college responses
regarding financial aid.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Commission on Precollege Guidance and Counseling (1986) and the National
College Counseling Project (1986) address priorities for the schools in
"broadening the frontiers of possibility," recommending: (1) a focus on student
needs with college counseling acting as part of a long-term guidance curriculum;
(2) attention to appropriate counselor qualities; (3) counselor-principal
cooperation and faculty enlistment; (4) parent and family involvement; (5)
emphasis on early and middle years, especially for underserved students; (6)
collaboration with various colleges and community resources; (7) development of
state-wide plans to address student needs; (8) support of federal programs
helping disadvantaged students; (9) a focus on financial aid initiatives; and
(10) revision of school counselor training.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Brodbelt, S. "The Guidance Counselor's Role in Advising College-bound
Students." CLEARINGHOUSE 55 (1982): 203-207.
Chapman, D. W. and M. E. DeMasi. "College Advising in the High School:
Priority and Problems." THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS 103 (1984): 3-7.
Chapman, D., C. J. O'Brien, and M. E. DeMasi. "The Effectiveness of the
Public School Counselor in College Advising." THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
115 (1987): 11-18.
Commission on Precollege Guidance and Counseling. KEEPING THE OPTIONS OPEN:
RECOMMENDATIONS. New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1986. ED 275 948.
Holmes, D. R., H. F. Dalton, D. G. Erdmann, T. C. Hayden, and A. O. Roberts.
FRONTIERS OF POSSIBILITY: REPORT OF THE NATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELING PROJECT.
Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Instructional Development Center, 1986.
CG 020 238.
Lee, V. E. and R. B. Ekstrom. "Student Access to Guidance Counseling in High
School." AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESERACH JOURNAL 24 (1987): 287-310.
National Association of College Admission Counselors. FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO
COLLEGE: A CRITICAL TRANSITION. Washington, DC: NACAC, 1983. ED 242 398.
Ramon, G. COUNSELING HISPANIC COLLEGE-BOUND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. Las Cruces,
NM: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, and New York: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Urban Education, 1985. ED 268 188.