Today school kids are dealing with different pressures and challenges than any previous younger generation. And we are referring to more than bullying – there is stress, anxiety, drug addiction, and academic challenges.
According to studies, the rate of depression among young children is rising more than ever before – at least one out of five teens is diagnosed as depressed, not to mention the suicide rate among teens, which is at least five times higher than how things were five decades ago.
With that said, one thing is obvious – kids and teens need help more than ever before. For many schools, school counselors have become the ultimate lifeline that schools, kids, and teens need.
The problem is that despite the high demand, there aren’t sufficient counselors around, leaving most kids without the crucial lifeline they so desperately need. As a matter of fact, today, the role of a school counselor has changed tremendously.
How has the role of school counselor changed today?
At least two decades ago, the sole role of a school counselor was to help students navigate through their high school life by guiding them about their potential career choices and college applications. Compared to that, most school counselors today have a lot on their plates – they help struggling students with so much more than overcoming academic challenges.
Today’s school counselors have the job of helping students navigate their school lives and prepare them for what lies beyond. Although college and career planning are at the top of a school counselor’s job description, today’s school counselor is also focused on helping kids and teens with their social problems.
School counselors don’t only oversee the academic development of kids but also oversee the career and social-emotional development of students. With that said school counselors of diverse ethnic backgrounds are more in demand than before.
According to research, schools are looking for counselors of color to help their students graduate high school and attend college. It has been observed that students of color are more likely to be successful in school and beyond when they are matched with school counselors of color.
It is said that the more diverse the school counselors are, the more positive influence they have on the kids’ and teens’ lives. This would come as a strong contrast to the aspect if the school matched their students of color with a school counselor from a different ethnic background.
Why are schools looking for counselors of color?
Today schools are focused on overcoming biases, which is why they are focused on hiring school counselors from different racial backgrounds. The underlying reason is that the school administration believes that student counselors of different racial backgrounds have the advantage of recognizing the cultural assets of students with the same racial background.
Subsequently, the student counselors of color can use their cultural knowledge to frame academic achievements as a winning game for the students and their families, which eventually contributes to collective success rather than individual success.
School counselors who share the same ethnic background as the students can do so much more to reach out to the parents of those students and also promote education at home. This way, the involvement of the student counselor in their student’s success might not be readily visible on the surface level – aka – the school campus – yet there will be an entire unit and community involved behind the scenes.
Today, young professionals or students signing up for EdS in School Counseling understand that the role of student counselors has evolved.
With that said, if you are interested in pursuing this career, you know that you will be working closely with a group of students and helping them develop crucial life skills that will eventually help them deal with interpersonal differences and bullying and build their self-esteem.
School counselors today train students on emotional intelligence and help them how to handle and navigate through conflict. School counselors also extend their hand to the parents of the students as well as the teachers and administrators.
This way, the school counselors help the school and the parents identify the need for additional interventions. Together, working with the parents and teachers, the school counselors develop strategies to assist those students and provide them with much-needed support.
A Renewed Focus on Student Mental Health
The additional pressure on school counselors has also created a shortage of professionals to work with students. And while the demand for school counselors is on a steady rise, adequate school counseling services have proved to improve student’s academic success and mental health.
Nonetheless – in the face of several incidents, including school shootings, a renewed focus on student’s mental health has emerged, which has established student counselors as a mandatory aspect of a healthy and well-functioning school environment.
With that said, if you opt to become a school counselor, you will essentially become a driving force in the lives of young people, their parents, the school, and the extended community.