Why the High School Guidance Counselor Needs a Makeover

Want to boost the number of students going to college? Let guidance counselors do their jobs.

One piece of advice in Forbes contributor Gene Marks' recent, deservedly maligned, essay "If I Was a Poor Black Kid" was that students who want to go to college should become best friends with their high school guidance counselor. A new report from the Education Trust shows just how out of touch Marks' advice really is. Too many of the nation's counselors don't spend their time advising students and ensuring they're college- and career-ready, the report found.

The Education Trust found that more than 90 percent of counselors say advocating for students is the "ideal mission for their profession," but only 45 percent say that's what they do at work. Things are even worse at low-income schools, where students may need a counselor's advice and guidance even more than their wealthier peers. A full 68 percent of counselors at low-income schools say their job should be to "ensure that low-income students get the extra help they need," yet only 30 percent say that's how they spend their time.

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