Providing helpful resources
Some students may face emotional issues such as body image, self-esteem and disability-related issues. Others may experience social issues such as pregnancies or substance abuse. Some may experience family stressors, such as neglect, homelessness and the death of a loved one. In these cases, counselors may provide helpful resources, such as food assistance programs, housing applications or other necessary financial aid information.
Guidance counselors can assist with college preparation activities, including college writing workshops and SAT or ACT prep classes. Additionally, they support students as they work on their applications, reviewing essays and providing feedback to strengthen their chances of admission.
They may also work to ensure that vocational training opportunities are offered to students who are not pursuing an advanced education by attending a university.
Facilitating goal development
Goal development is a critical component of the high school counseling process. Counselors work with students to set realistic and achievable goals that are tailored to a student’s needs and interests. This could include:
- Developing plans for academic success
- Identifying and developing personal interests, traits and skills
- Exploring potential career paths and creating job search strategies
- Creating a budget to help manage finances during college or career transitions
With so many looming choices and decisions, guidance counselors can provide support and structure to help students develop meaningful goals, which are critical for helping students develop a sense of purpose and direction.
Coordinating students, parents and educators
Guidance counselors are responsible for communicating with educators, parents and students to ensure each party is on the same page regarding decisions about a student’s academic trajectory.
Counselors may attend parent-teacher conferences or serve as liaisons between the home and school. They may coordinate meetings between parents, teachers and administrators to discuss academic progress or challenges. This connectivity helps build stronger relationships between students and teachers, leading to better communication and more open dialogue.
Leading public health programs
Not only do guidance counselors provide advice and resources for individual students, but they can also take a lead role in facilitating public health programs. Public health programs are initiatives that focus on promoting the health and wellness of a school or community:
- Sexual health education teaches students about forms of contraception, safe sex practices and risks of sexually transmitted infections.
- Substance abuse prevention aims to prevent or reduce underage drinking and drug use among students by providing education and resources on the risks.
- Mental health awareness educates students on mental health topics such as depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
- Bullying prevention campaigns work to create a safe and inclusive school environment by raising awareness about the impacts of bullying and providing resources for those who might be affected.
Leading these programs can help foster healthy relationships between students, teachers and administrators while promoting a sense of well-being in the school community. Counselors may also arrange for public speakers to discuss a variety of issues within the school.
Organizing and overseeing peer-led programs
Peer-led programs are student-run activities and initiatives that support and guide other students. Examples of peer-led programs are:
Guidance counselors may organize these programs or provide oversight to ensure they run smoothly and safely.
Representing student interests
Guidance counselors are advocates for and can represent their needs to external entities such as school districts or other organizations within the community. This can include:
- Writing letters of recommendation
- Giving presentations at conferences
- Advocating for policy changes that benefit students
- Ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion are honored
Guidance counselors are invaluable resources for helping students get the most out of their education — inside and outside the classroom.
Although University of Phoenix does not have direct degree alignment to guarantee this career outcome, it does offer several online education and behavioral science degrees if you’re interested in learning more about working with students in general or about mental health counseling.