BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Ideally, high school counselors are a dependable source of advice, encouragement, you know — guidance. However, the staff my brothers, friends, and I have dealt with is far from reliable.
I didn’t trust guidance counselors even before my freshman year. They allowed my brother and several of his friends to drop out of school with no suggestions — such as alternate schooling like Westwoods.
Fewer students; less paperwork.
Apparently what they have is too much to handle. The students who need them the most —- the seniors going to college —- get extra stress from these so-called caretakers.
Real examples: sending the wrong transcript (one with a lower GPA) to a college for a student. This happened to someone I know, and UConn rejected him. After a lot of hassle, he got it straightened out, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Equally problematic is when guidance counselors leave the transcript out when sending mate-rial off to a college for a student. This delays the whole application process, at best.
Understand one thing — unless a student goes out of her way to get an exception by rattling somebody’s cage, the guidance counselor, unfortunately, is the only one who gets to mail, fax or otherwise transmit the all-important transcript to potential colleges or scholarship committees.
This one indelible fact gives them a lot of power over your future.
You’ll get no advice on what courses to take that would help you for life after high school. It’s just “by the way, you need to take an art course or you won’t graduate this year.”
The school is run like a corporation. The counselors do what the business world calls “passing the buck.”
Go downstairs. Go upstairs. Call this person. Go to that building. I was forced to do things on my own, such as send out scholarships myself and investigate the Tunxis Prep Program where students earn college credits for high school courses.
When I inquired for evidence of the Tunxis credits I have earned which I could transfer to my university, the guidance counselor told me to go to Tunxis myself and find out.
Tunxis told me to ask my counselor.
When I told the counselor in charge what Tunxis shared with me so she would know for the future in order to provide guidance for the hundreds of other students in this program, I was told to calm down and only be concerned about myself, not the other students.
More than once, I was told contradicting statements by different counselors. One of them told me I should get the answers to my questions in writing.
Just like teachers, guidance counselors should not come to work just to collect a paycheck. They should care about the success of their students, not just make sure they get their federally provided minimum 23 minutes of lunch each day as they count down their days to retirement.
I guess the guidance counselors have helped shape me for my future. I have become more independent and got a sense of the monkey-swinging field of business which I plan to enter.
A piece of advice for incoming freshmen: for quality guidance stick to psychic hot lines.
Hila Yosafi is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.