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A Day in the Life of a High School Counselor

Sunday, June 21, 2020
People are always asking... what does a day in the life of a high school counselor look like? Hopefully I can shed some light for the new counselors, the interns, the people thinking about career changes, the grad school students, the counselors at elementary and middle school levels thinking about making the jump to a high school.

A high school counselor's day-to-day looks different during different seasons during the year,  depending on how your department divides up caseloads, and depending on initiatives for your district and state, of course. After years of being only in the high school setting, I've come to appreciate the familiarities of the rhythms and the challenge of improving our programming and refining our SMART goals for these each year through trial and error.

Every single day is different which is what I love most about this career. I've realized adaptability is key in this job... or at least being OKAY with things changing on the fly. At any moment, my day might look completely different than my calendar or my to-do list predicted the day may look like.

How to Hold a Productive School Counseling Department Planning Day

Sunday, June 14, 2020
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View my disclosure policy here.*

During our prep week, our school counseling department gets off campus together. Our principal has always seen the value in this planning retreat for us (they do one themselves), and we have developed this into a yearly practice ever since the year we worked on our RAMP application off-campus. We have found a TON of value in doing this off-campus to prevent interruptions. Even if you're hidden in a room at your school with a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door, be warned: YOU WILL BE DISTURBED. We have held this "retreat" in a variety of locations: the public library (reserve a study room with a giant marker board for brainstorming), a co-work space that a friend lent to us, and a team member's newly renovated kitchen table. Anything goes. We make sure we take a break and go out to lunch together to break up the day and spend some time together NOT focused on work for a few minutes.

A High School Counselor's Back-to-School Essentials

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View my full disclosure policy here.*

I have curated a list for you of things that I have purchased and gathered especially for back-to-school or related to a school counseling office that have helped my school counseling practice. Of course, you can do your job without ANY of these things... but having them may make your job more fun, more creative, happier, or easier! Save this post, come back to shop later, or favorite this page for when you're ready to jump in!

I've divided my recommendations into THREE PARTS: 1- office ideas, 2- things to use with TpT resources, and 3- books for your own professional development. 

How to Host a Virtual Career Fair

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
When we went to 100% digital/distance learning, I knew our career fair we were planning for this year was going to be a no-go. But if I've learned anything, I am certain that school counselors are experts at being adaptable and pivoting when a situation changes or new needs arise. 

Last year, we held a Mindfulness Day. The year before that, we held our first career fair in years. We never would have predicted that this year's career fair would be VIRTUAL!

It honestly didn't take tons of time, but maybe that's because I had a clear vision. I wanted a project I could start and finish while working from home that I could see tangible results from. I wanted a resource that students could use from home on their own time. I wanted teachers to be able to use this virtual career fair as a participation grade in their distance learning if they found it appropriate or helpful. 

I'll guide you through how I made it happen!

How I Hold Senior Meetings

Sunday, September 22, 2019
I want to tell you about my first week of Senior Meetings.

I only had 2 days of them this week. They're 30 minutes a piece, and I try to do about 6 each morning and catch my breath in the afternoon. I love the conversations that I get to have with 12th graders. Some are decisive, and some have no clue what's next. Both types of meetings are fun for me. I have students applying to 4 year and 2 year colleges, headed to work with a certification of some sort, and joining the military. These meetings are pretty student and parent driven as I answer any questions they might have specific to the student's plan. I let students sign up for a meeting with me first. If they don't sign up for a time, I assign them a time because it's important for me to meet with each of them and make sure they have a plan to be college or career ready.

In my particular meetings, here is how my flow usually goes:
  • I ask where the student sees themselves in 5 years. This usually is not a question they're expecting, but it gives me an idea of the direction they see themselves going in. 
  • Then we talk about where they are in that process. If it's college, where are they in the application process? If it's work, they they already have a certification or a job secured? If it's military, have they taken they ASVAB or met with a recruiter yet?
  • If they're headed to college and we're checking on the status of that process... we look at the schools they are applying to or thinking about applying to. Are they on the Common App, Coalition App, or are they applying directly to the institution? I show them how to send their transcripts to these schools or how to request them from me. I make sure they know how to send their SAT and ACT test scores through the respective testing agencies. 
  • If they qualify for free or reduced lunch, I make sure they know what benefits come with that regarding fee waivers for tests and application fees. 
  • Then, we talk about financial aid. I walk them through our state scholarships, letting them know about where they stand with those at this point when we look at GPA, test scores, and class rank. I show them our school's resources for where we keep our scholarships and how they can access them. 
  • I let them know about important dates coming up like a College Essay Writing Workshop, a district financial aid night, College Application Day, etc. 
  • I give them a copy of their unofficial transcript, a flyer with all upcoming important dates, and a handout with the state scholarship information. Before they leave, they have to complete a digital survey that our district asks for (it has basically a summary of what we talked about and what their plans and interests are). 

I made this Senior Year Planning Sheet for those students headed to college. They can use it to manage their stress, stay organized, and keep everything in one place as they're applying for college.

In this planning guide, they'll get: