I read an article today in the Huffington Post about the lack of college guidance for bright students in low income areas. The article focused on the many hats guidance counselors must wear in a public school (behavioral interventionist, career adviser, scheduling pro, and study skill instructor), and their workload. They stated that the average workload of a guidance counselor in the U.S. is 476 students. As Huffington Post so articulately put it: it’s crowd control. The trouble is that smart kids in areas that are less affluent typically don’t come from college-going families, nor do they plan for college or seek college advice. They get left out of the college prep game because their schools don’t have the resources to prepare them and their family life doesn’t promote higher education.
This got me to thinking. I’ve heard, time and time again, how difficult it is to get face time with a counselor at school. This isn’t something that is only happening in lower income areas either. This is something that happens at all schools as college preparation is so personal. How can any one person have enough time to assist 80, 100, 250, 450, 600 students…?
So how about this: why don’t we implement a mandatory college planning class for high school sophomores? We can mandate the Common Core, right? Let’s mandate that sophomores MUST take a college preparation class that meets every day for an entire semester. This class will teach them about access, admissions paths, careers, majors, colleges, applications, essays, deadlines, timelines, costs, financial aid, saving, loans… That would be something, right? Can you imagine how empowered our students would be to make smart college decisions? Not only that, but the class could include assignments that gets our students on track to apply. We could even have our current guidance counselors teach the course, along with guest speakers from college planning firms, colleges, and businesses.
What are your thoughts?