If you think you might want to be a school counselor, give yourself a pat on the back! School counselors do incredibly important work in public and private schools of all levels. They provide both academic and emotional support to students who need it.
What do school counselors do?
This may mean listening to and talking to a student in distress, offering strategies for better coping with emotional distress, and interfacing with parents and offering referrals to outside professionals to make sure that a student with behavioral issues, attention issues, or emotional issues gets the support that they need.
Of course, school counselors do more than just those things. They give presentations and take proactive steps to help students handle their social and academic lives in a healthy way. They also deal with academic and career strategies: as a school counselor, you might administer an aptitude test to help a student discover where their strengths lie, offer advice on potential class choices and academic decisions, and discuss careers and future plans. School therapists aren’t just there for troubled, depressed, or confused students: they’re there for any student seeking guidance on issues as varied as course schedules and bullying.
How to get there
If that all sounds good to you–and it seems that it does–then you’ll want to know how to become a school counselor. As you might expect, it’s not easy: becoming qualified to do as many things as school counselors do takes a lot of schooling!
The surest path to a career in school counseling is to secure a bachelor’s degree (you’re on track for that now), followed by a master’s degree and a doctorate (Ph.D.) degree. That’s a lot of schooling!
Not every job in school counseling requires the exact same academic background, but it’s safe to say that more degrees will make you more competitive and that a bachelor’s degree alone won’t be enough for most quality positions. So you should plan to stay in school for a while even after you graduate–assuming you can position yourself to get into the programs you want!
To that end, you’ll probably want to take a look at your undergraduate resume. School counselors typically have undergraduate backgrounds in psychology, education, or counseling. Of course, you bachelor’s degree won’t be your last if you want to be a school counselor, so there is no one major that you absolutely need to have. Still, it’s a good idea to start looking at graduate school requirements and speaking with admissions staff to figure out how you might best put yourself on track for the career you want. Good luck!
“The child becomes largely what he [or she] is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.” — Jane Addams
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