As of the 2014-15 school year, the United States’ student-to-counselor ratio was a staggering 482 to 1. Ratios vary widely among states: In California, the ratio is 882 to 1, and in Arizona, it’s 941 to 1. By contrast, the American School Counselor Association recommends that schools maintain a ratio much closer to 250 to 1. Its research found that only three states — New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming — maintain a level below that threshold.
Overwhelming caseloads upward of 500 students per counselor mean that school counselors need resources to help them balance their many responsibilities. These crucial school workers address students’ needs across various realms: preventing and working with victims of bullying; helping establish school safety plans; providing academic support; helping with college prep and consideration of career paths; working through substance abuse; and addressing difficult family issues.
As public school funding grows tighter and the needs of the most vulnerable students intensify, the services provided by school counselors are more important than ever. In this guide, we offer school counselors resources to strengthen their work with students.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than a quarter of students in grades six through 12 have experienced bullying. Below, you’ll find a number of resources to learn about, teach and respond to the impacts of bullying.
- Resources for children and teens:
- Counselors can find children’s books about bullying from the Books That Heal Kids blog
- PACER’s Kids Against Bullying is an educational website for elementary school students to learn about preventing bullying and to discover how they can help stop it. PACER’s Teens Against Bullying provides a forum for middle and high school students to speak out against bullying
- Resources for adults:
In an era in which students and teachers around the country must endure “active shooter” drills, school counselors have a crucial role to play in helping ensure that schools have safety plans, can adequately assess risk and can help troubled students address their problems in healthy ways.
- School safety plans:
- How counselors help prevent crises:
- Responding to a school tragedy:
Academic Support and College Prep
Research shows that 74 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education by 2020. One of the major roles of counselors is ensuring that students are on the path to reach their goals following graduation.
- A report called Agents of Their Own Success helps establish what self-advocacy skills and self-determination can look like for students with disabilities
- Help students achieve their college goals:
- College Possible offers an intensive coaching program for low-income students
- Strive for College is a volunteer organization that offers virtual advising
- Common Application is an app counselors can use to help their students apply to hundreds of colleges at once
- Counselors can help students learn what resources are available to help them pay for college
Considering Career Paths
As students move through school, it’s crucial that they develop an understanding of the career paths available to them and see their goals as achievable. The resources below allow counselors to begin to widen students’ horizons as they consider their next steps.
- The American School Counselor Association provides a practical list of career conversation starters
- The Interest Assessment Curriculum Guide features an interactive game to help students articulate their interests and discover how they might connect to careers
- The GetMyFuture User Guide leads young adults through a process that helps them find the right careers and make a plan to get there
- CareerOneStop’s video library presents information about nearly 900 different occupations, organized into 16 categories
- The National Education Empowerment Foundation created the College Career Life Planning tool
Substance abuse is on the rise among teens, and statistics indicate that the majority of teens struggling with addiction are not receiving the help they need. A 2016 survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that only 16 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 17 who needed substance abuse treatment received it.
- This questionnaire was developed to screen adolescents for high risk of alcohol abuse and other drug use disorders
- View “Reversing the Stigma,” a documentary about work in New York state to combat addiction
- Discover a rich library of e-books and guides from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
School counselors often help students navigate difficult issues that students’ families are facing — especially when their families are unable to offer the full support they need. The resources below are guides to helping children deal with grief, loss and major transitions.
- The National Alliance for Grieving Children offers research, support and educational tools for those helping children work their way through grief
- Hello Grief describes itself as a website for children to “share and learn about grief and loss”
- Sesame Street offers:
- Children in Change is a group curriculum for kids ages 8 through 14 who are experiencing family change