By Fiona Bock & Jenna Giulioni
High school is no easy feat. The four years leading up to graduation are packed with challenging classes, demanding extracurriculars, tiring standardized tests, and lengthy college applications. During this stressful time, most students seek guidance–– or try to.
Any student who has had to rely on a counselor at SPHS knows that developing a relationship with your counselor is so challenging, it often isn’t worth the effort.
There is a wall between students and counselors, and it isn’t the fault of the counselors. Countless obstacles make it challenging for both counselors and students to reach out to one another.
The huge numbers of students assigned to each counselor is one of the largest problems the department faces. While hiring new, qualified staff is an investment, most students will agree that the long-term benefits are greater than upgraded facilities. Counselors are constantly overloaded trying to fix schedules, write letters, and advise their hundreds of assigned students. It’s impossible to give each student the attention they need when fighting to balance that attention between 300 other students.
When focus is absorbed in assisting their many students, it’s easy for counselors to forget to communicate with one another. When it comes to scheduling, many students will report that so-called “rules” are often enforced or disregarded depending the counselor. This includes second period home study being mandated for some seniors but waved for others, some getting P.E. credit for sports management while others don’t, and even some students being discouraged to take challenging classes while others are pushed to succeed. This may seem irrelevant, but it isn’t; restrictions are in place for good reason – and if they aren’t, they should be revoked entirely. Subjecting one group of students to regulations and not another puts everyone at a disadvantage. The frustration that this often induces in students gives them another reason to stay away from the counseling office altogether.
Most students have experienced first-hand the consequences of the recent, seemingly endless, switching of counselors. Some students are on their third counselor in three years, thanks to counter-intuitive executive decisions to move students back and forth between the department. If a student did manage to build a relationship with their counselor last year despite the odds, good for them – but don’t be surprised if that relationship is all but erased with yet another counselor shift.
Counselors play an incredibly important role in our high school lives. It is essential to have a relationship with your counselor, especially if you are a senior in need of a letter of recommendation. Regardless of grade level, counselors have valuable insights to share. The confusion throughout the department needs to be mended if we ever hope to tap into their knowledge.
It’s clear that as of now, the convenience of neither the counselors nor the students is being prioritized. Changes need to be made now – for everyone’s sake.