Push on Counseling

Career College Central Summary:

  • The White House’s higher education summit in January, as some critics described it, was all about appealing to the cameras. The event, to be sure, drew mainstream headlines as President Obama exercised his “convening authority” to summon to the White House dozens of college presidents — many of whom seemed pretty excited to come to Washington and snap photos of the president and first lady.
  • But the administration’s first public event following up on that summit, hosted here on Monday, was decidedly less publicity-focused. It was about digging into the trenches on school counseling: best practices in college counseling, how to better-train counselors, and how to harness new technology to help students.
  • The Obama administration gathered some 130 experts in college counseling at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to discuss ways to strengthen the individualized attention that students, especially low-income and first-generation students, need to help them apply for and enroll in college.
  • The event was billed as both a follow-up to the January White House summit aimed at boosting low-income enrollment in higher education as well as a continuation of the first lady’s initiative — dubbed “Reach Higher” — to promote college enrollment. Several panelists and presenters called for greater investment in school counseling.
  • Many experts on educational attainment levels have noted that high schools that serve low-income students tend to have overworked counselors who must handle many more students than do their counterparts at wealthier high schools.
  • The national recommended counselor-to-student ratio is one to 200; the actual national average is one counselor for every 471 students, and at some low-income schools that ratio can be as high as one per thousand. Like the January summit, Monday’s event was largely about how to make progress short of new federal resources. 

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