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Thank Your Counselors. It's National School Counseling Week

Uploaded: Feb 3, 2020
Written by John Raftrey

Today kicks off National School Counseling Week in the United States.

Please, everybody, do two things this week:
1) Stop by your counselor and college counselors’ office and just say thanks. Counselors hear a lot of complaints, but few compliments.
2) Please ask your school board to hire more counselors, especially college counselors.

I’ll go first.

I would like to publicly thank Selene Singares who was the counselor for my three sons when they were at Paly. She was always, upbeat and honest about what she could and couldn’t do to help my kids and went to bat for them multiple times. Most importantly, she kept us parents calm!

I don’t know Sandra Cernobori personally, but I would like to thank her too, for all the work she does for Paly. The part of her job you don’t see is what happens behind the scenes. I was among the several hundred counselors in the room at a national conference, who saw her stand up and personally admonish the NCAA panel for not allowing Film Composition Literature at Paly to be an authorized NCAA class. (It is UC A-G approved) She was professional, made excellent points and I think you would be proud of her. You could see counselors' heads shaking in agreement throughout the room as she spoke.

Counselors are insanely overworked. The National Association for College Admission Counseling recommends a counselor to student ratio of 250:1. (which I think is still way too high). Using basic numbers, Paly and Gunn ratios are about 1000:1. Freshmen need college counseling, too. According to their school profiles, Paly and Gunn each have 2 college counselors. (Paly has 3, but only two are assigned students alphabetically). Gunn supplements them with academic counselors, for whom college is only a part of their workload. Paly supplements theirs with teacher advisors who are instrumental in writing recommendations.

In addition, school college counselors have to make Naviance work. I don’t want to go into all the issues with Naviance, but if you got caught up in the password change last week, you have only seen the tip of the iceberg of the problems with that application. They have to stay up to date with all the rules of the UC system. Every time there is a new class offering, it has to be approved by the UC to be included in the A-G framework. They also have to arrange college visits to the high school and make sure students show up. The colleges have a lot of schools to visit and they can’t visit all of them, so keeping relationships intact is key. Most of all, they get all the transcripts and other documents needed for college applications to the colleges on time. That’s for 500 students each year.

So, raise a toast to your school counselors. They work really hard and they really care.
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The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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