As a counselor, you know the importance of meeting with students to review their four-year track and update their college list. But finding time to meet with students—and convincing them that it’s a worthwhile process—can be a daunting task. Dr. Rose Paolino, school counseling department chair at West Haven High School in West Haven, Connecticut, shares insights she’s gained from 14 years in the field.
In regard to course selection, what’s the biggest mistake students make?
I think the biggest mistake they make is that they listen more to friends. They’re misinformed, and they think that they really have the knowledge.
What advice do you offer counselors for getting students interested in scheduling and in their own futures?
I think it’s constant communication with the student in the classroom, sending newsletters home, and bringing in guest speakers.
How can a counselor anticipate and then respond to students’ changing interests?
Research says, last time I saw, 60 percent of high school students will check “undecided” on their college application. However, we feel the more knowledge they have about themselves when they graduate high school, the more informed, better choice they will have for college. In the long run, perhaps, this can save them money, because then they’re not transferring college to college because they changed their major or various issues like that. So we tell them it’s OK and it may change and that’s what we’re here for. That’s why we meet with them individually every year.
Is there any other advice for other counselors you’d like to add?
Hang in there. However, it’s hard to see students a lot individually, so I say even meet with groups. Just start getting out of the office, meeting with students in groups in the classroom, small groups. Get out there, show the students that you’re there for them. Then they’ll come to you.