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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: counselors

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July 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Mrs. Obama: School counselor among country’s toughest jobs

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses members of the American School Counselor Association during their annual conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday. AP photo.

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses members of the American School Counselor Association during their annual conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday. Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack / The Associated Press.

School counselors — that oft-maligned group expected to perform emotional triage, academic guidance and college advising for millions of students every year — are attracting increased attention from some pretty high-profile folks.

First Lady Michelle Obama noted earlier this month:

While we talk a great deal about the role of teachers and principals and parents in preparing kids for higher education, often, engaged school counselors … are the deciding factor in whether young people attend college or not.

She reeled off a typical counselor’s day: Perhaps ministering to a girl who’s been bullied, then dealing with “the kid who’s been kicked out of every class.” Later, meeting with a distrustful parent and finally, trying to convince a promising student who refuses to apply to college, that “she has what it takes to succeed in life.”


Comments | More in News | Topics: counselors, Michelle Obama, Obama

April 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington’s two-tiered system of higher education

Last Sunday’s story, “From Slipping Through the Cracks to the College Track,” noted that despite our brainy national image, Washington state has shockingly low college-going rates compared to the rest of the country. Only 60 percent of high school graduates here enroll in any four-year institution.

But for low-income kids, the rates are truly troubling.

Among the Class of 2012, only 18 percent enrolled in four-year colleges. Instead, many chose to attend no-barrier community colleges — even those who do well in school and score highly on standardized tests. Number-crunchers at the State of Washington Education Research & Data Center ran figures for The Times, and found that only 21 percent of low-income students who’d tested well in math went to four-year schools. But about one-third enrolled at community colleges (see graph below).


Comments | More in News | Topics: Community colleges, counselors, graduation rates

April 11, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Video: College advising against the odds

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High-school counselors are often the only resource for college-bound students whose parents lack the experience or time to help them navigate SATs, financial-aid applications and personal essays.

Yet, today’s counselors are juggling an average caseload nationally of 471 students — in Washington, the ratio is 516-to-1. Meanwhile, just 18 percent of the state’s disadvantaged students go on to enroll in four-year institutions.


Comments | More in News, Video | Topics: college advising, counselors, National College Advising Corps

March 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Students: How have guidance counselors helped you?

As more and more young people set their sights on higher education, high-school guidance counselors continue to serve an important role. For many students, they are the only people available to help walk them through college applications, standardized tests, financial-aid forms and personal essays.

In an upcoming story, Education Lab will examine the growing workload of high-school counselors and how certain programs are working to give students more one-on-one attention. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to current high-school students and recent graduates to get their take on the current role of the guidance counselor:

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: counselors, high school, higher ed