What Do School Counselors Do?

Female student with brown hair and striped shirt talking to her school counselor

School counselors are important figures within the school system. They work one-on-one with students to help them develop the social, academic and life skills necessary to succeed both within school and after graduating. If you are interested in pursuing this profession, you will need to start by earning a school counseling degree. Aspiring school counselors may earn a bachelor’s in psychology, counseling or education before pursuing a master’s degree.

Academic and Life Skills Development

One way that school counseling programs help students is helping them develop important skills that transfer into adult life. Many K-12 students struggle to keep their work organized. This can result in late assignments and poor overall performance. Counselors help these students develop effective organizational systems and other important skills related to academic success and professional life.

Other crucial skills that school counselors can work on is time management and study habits. They might help students that struggle with procrastination become more aware of how they spend their time, the consequences of wasting time and effective strategies for better time management. Similarly, they can help students learn better study habits. It is important for these professionals to be aware of the various learning styles to customize the counseling session to better meet the individual student’s needs.

Vocational Assessment

School counselors can provide vocational counseling. These professionals often perform aptitude assessments and conduct interviews to explore the student’s career interests and abilities. Based on their findings, the counselors can discuss career possibilities with students. If a student is not planning to attend college, their counselor can help them work toward getting a job after high school. The student may need a referral to a vocational training program or assistance with developing a resume, for example.

College Selection and Application

Students who plan to attend college often rely on school counselors for extensive help identifying higher education institutions based on their academic achievements. A counselor will sit down with individual students to ask them about their college preferences and help them explore the possibilities. After narrowing down their choices, the students can then work toward applying to a college.

Individual and Group Counseling

School counselors often meet with students individually. A student can request a meeting with the counselor for any number of reasons. For example, a student might be having trouble with bullies, or they might be having trouble getting along with a teacher or keeping up with the demands of an Advanced Placement (AP) class. Effective school counselors are active listeners who can provide guidance within a supportive environment.

Sometimes, school counselors may conduct group counseling sessions. For example, a counselor might work with a small group of students who are all being bullied. The counselor can help by giving these students a voice, exploring conflict resolution options and teaching coping skills. In some cases, school counselors act as mediators. They may mediate conflicts between two or more students or staff members.

Crisis Response and Prevention

Another way that school counselors help students is by serving as a first point of contact when a crisis occurs. For example, they may provide psychological first aid to students after a traumatic event. School counselors may also work with students experiencing suicidal ideation. It is the responsibility of counselors to understand how to identify high risk students and work to keep students in a healthy mindset. School counselors are expected to report suspected suicidal ideation to the student’s parents or legal guardians and the appropriate authorities.

If you aspire to become a school counselor, you can develop a solid academic foundation for success at Grand Canyon University. Consider beginning with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology or a Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies. Students with this background can continue their education with our Master of Education in School Counseling program. Students earning a school counselor degree benefit from a highly supportive, dynamic community with flexible learning options. To learn more about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, visit our website or click on Request Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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