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Friday, October 23, 2009

Study Finds Growing Work for School Counselors

New York Times
October 20, 2009

The struggling economy has taken a toll on those directly responsible for advising students about the college admission process.

Nearly half of public schools have raised the caseloads of high school counselors this year, compared with last year, with the average increase exceeding 53 students, according to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

At the same time, the report said, the pressures on applicants (and, by extension, their counselors) are growing, as the number of applications to four-year colleges continued to rise, along with the number of students applying to colleges under early-decision programs.

In many respects, the report, “2009 State of College Admission,” seeks to quantify the extent of the frenzy engulfing many of today’s college applicants.

For example, about 22 percent of students who enrolled in college in the fall of 2008 applied to at least seven colleges, up from about 19 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the average acceptance rate at four-year colleges declined slightly, to 66.8 percent in 2007, the last year for which the report provided full data in that category, from 71.3 percent in 2001.

Those applicants who find themselves on a waiting list face tough odds of being accepted. Fewer than one in three on such lists in 2008 were ultimately accepted, according to the report, about the same as a year earlier.

And yet the report included some indications that the pressures on applicants could soon ease. The number of students graduating from high school annually is believed to have peaked this spring, at 3.33 million, according to the report, so competition for places in colleges should diminish over the next few years.

But families of children in elementary school take note: the nation’s collective high school graduating class “is projected to rebound to 3.31 million by 2017-18,” the report said.

Many applicants rely on their school counselors for advice on college admissions, and the report described the rising workloads of those counselors, particularly at public high schools. (While private school counselors are also working harder, in many instances, fewer than 20 percent reported that their caseloads had increased since the last school year, compared with 45 percent of their public school counterparts.)

Among the states with the highest student-to-counselor ratios are California (986 students for each counselor), Minnesota (799) and Utah (720), according to the report, which cited government data for the 2006-7 school year. While Illinois was listed as having the highest ratio (1,172), the report suggested that the figure was probably “the result of a reporting error,” and was most likely closer to about 700.

Sandie Gilbert, a counselor at Highland Park High School in Illinois said in an interview that she had a caseload of about 280 students this year — an increase of about 45, or 20 percent, since she first began working at the school 15 years ago.

“It’s been inching up every year,” Ms. Gilbert said.

About a quarter of her students are freshmen, who have been streaming into her office since school began in late August with any number of “acclimation” issues, she said. Another quarter are seniors, whom Ms. Gilbert must serve not only in one-on-one guidance sessions but by writing college recommendations for each.

“I wrote 43 recommendations before Oct. 15, and that’s at home, at night,” she said, citing the November deadlines for early-decision applications.

“I was really busy every single period, for the first six weeks of school,” she added. “I’m just now eating lunch. It’s been sitting there on my desk. It’s 2:30.”



Anonymous Anonymous said...

My school counselor basically called me into his office to say "do research and narrow down your choices...on your own." College blogs and Acceptedge are my counselors!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Sekolah Tinggi Managemen Informatika dan Komputer Jakarta said...

nice article, i also have some good articles from my college here

2:59 AM  

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