How Much Time is Spent on College Planning at Your High School?



A 2010 study by NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) showed that the average ratio of students to secondary school guidance counselor is 490:1. The ASCA (American School Sounselor Association) sets the ideal ratio at 100:1- with an absolute maximum of 300:1. Many schools have far exceeded that maximum, and some U.S. high schools have breached a 900:1 ratio. As school district budgets continue to experience cuts, the counselor to student ratio is expected to rise- leaving less time for post-high school planning.

High school guidance counselors are called upon to do many things- deal with mental health and substance abuse issues, discipline, suicidal ideation, grief and other serious needs of students. They work with administrators, teachers and staff to meet student and school needs. They also counsel parents and families, refer students to appropriate outside services, develop and deliver special programs on bullying, health issues, etc., coordinate information for student files- and yes, talk to students about life beyond high school.

This same study showed that public school guidance counselors spent, on average, 38 minutes per year per student on college advising.

Today's students face a wide variety of choices after high school. For many, the choice will be to enter college and parents and students need to be armed with relevant and specific information about searching for a college, applying to college and navigating the world of financial aid. While it is up to the student to drive the college planning process, support is crucial. Families can create a network of support that may include the high school guidance counselor, an independent college counselor, teachers, the Internet, books and colleges themselves. Call upon as many sources of support necessary for your student and family to experience a successful transition from high school to higher education.