It has been acknowledged that the modern labor market demands professionals with post-secondary education (“Eight components of college and career readiness counseling,” 2010). Therefore, P-12 contexts are now regarded as the most appropriate platform for making young people ready for postsecondary education as well as further career life. The central stakeholders involved in this process include students, school counselors, teachers, administrators, as well as postsecondary educators, and policymakers. The schools are guided by a number of standards and frameworks developed to ensure all stakeholders focus on similar goals and visions.
Current Trends in College and Career Readiness
College and career readiness can be referred to as school students’ ability to gain further education or enter the employment pool. The recent transfer to the college-based economy where people with higher education play the primary role has made schools assist their students in pursuing higher education or professional goals (“Eight components of college and career readiness counseling,” 2010). College and career readiness incorporate eight components that include college aspirations, academic planning, enrichment, and extracurricular engagement, exploration and selection, assessment of colleges and careers, college affordability evaluation, admission, process, and transition from school to college. Each of these components should be implemented in terms of the following elements: context, competence, multilevel intervention, data.
Comprehensive Career Development: Why Is It Needed?
It is found that people with higher education earn almost 70% more than those who have a high-school education. Almost 85% of high-school students are expected to be enrolled in a college (“Eight components of college and career readiness counseling,” 2010). However, students lack guidance and support, which often results in numerous issues and even dropouts. Some students have difficulties with looking for the most appropriate educational opportunities and often make ineffective choices (“ASCA National Model,” n.d.). Comprehensive career development is based on national standards, ensures the identification of students’ knowledge and skills related to choosing careers, the use of evidence-based approach, and contributes to equitable access to various educational opportunities.
Standards Guiding School Counselors’ Work
School counselors follow a set of standards that guide their work and enable these professionals to have a similar vision consistent with the goals of the US educational system (“ASCA National Model,” n.d.). ASCA National Model is a national framework that outlines the career development effort within the context of P-12 education. The model provides guidelines regarding the most appropriate school counselor-student ratio, programs, and materials ensuring the provision of effective counseling to students, and contributes to the equal access of all groups to educational opportunities. ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success equips counselors with the framework to assist students in such developmental aspects as academic, career, as well as social and emotional (“ASCA National Model,” n.d.). NOSCA’s Eight Components of College and Career Readiness and Behaviors are instrumental in implementing a comprehensive career development effort as the model addresses all the major domains.
Developmental Level of High-School Students
Students of different ages have certain peculiarities and needs. High schoolers’ development is characterized by growing autonomy and the focus on the future. Students are becoming able to solve issues, manage conflicts, and set future goals. At this stage, they may be specifically vulnerable, so they need guidance and support. The school counselor is available to address these needs and assist young people to overcome confusion and stress if necessary.
Career Development Needs of High-School Students
High-school students have various needs associated with their further academic and career paths. They need to gain knowledge and skills, access information regarding available resources, develop plans. All these needs can be met if students have guidance and mentorship from qualified adults (teachers and school counselors). Royster, Gross, and Hochbein (2015) emphasize that high-school students benefit from their parent’s involvement in their academic life and their effort to plan their future careers.
Sylvia Plath High School
Although it is possible to identify some common needs of students, each educational facility is unique, which makes it necessary to pay special attention to the most urgent issues. Sylvia Plath High School serves 2,389 students of the 9th-12th grade. The majority of students are Caucasian while the largest minority group is African Americans (16%). Asian and Hispanic groups account for 12% each, and 1% of the students are Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. A quarter of the students are fully or partially subsidies and receive free or reduced-priced meals. Special needs services are provided to 15% of the school population, and 8% are eligible for ELL services.
The Need for P–12 Comprehensive Career Development at Sylvia Plath High School
The vast majority of high-school students have common career development needs that have been mentioned above. It is essential to help them set clear goals, acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, seek educational opportunities. Approximately 40% of the student population of Sylvia Plath High School pertaining to ethnic minority groups. A third of the students are subsidized, which points to their families’ financial constraints. Therefore, they may need assistance in searching for programs and projects aimed at ensuring equity in access to education. All these needs can be met if the school staff including teachers, administrators, and other professionals align their efforts with the existing standards and collaborate with each other.
Legal and Ethical Considerations Related to School Counseling for College and Career Readiness
School counselors should follow such principles as respect, advocate, and inspire in their practice. The identification of existing gaps linked to students’ college and career readiness and the collaboration with other stakeholders to address these gaps are primary goals of school counselors. These professionals should make sure they conduct within the set boundaries that include proper reporting, no harassment, no romantic relationships with students, no dual relationships with students’ families (“ASCA ethical standards for school counselors,” 2016). It is also important to make sure that the legal status of students and families (parents’ marital status, guardians’ status, legal history if any) are considered when programs and interventions are developed.
School Counselor’s Role Regarding College and Career Readiness
- Assisting students in identifying their needs, interests, abilities
- Providing information concerning different career paths, necessary skills, educational opportunities (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2017)
- Providing information as to available resources, educational opportunities, federal- and state-funded projects
- Helping in developing the plan for academic and career life, as well as the transition from school to postsecondary education
- Collaborating with different stakeholders (teachers, administrators, students, parents, policymakers) to create the appropriate culture
- Incorporating college and career readiness into the curriculum
- Ensuring equal access to resources
- Providing support to students and addressing their developmental needs
School Counselors and Postsecondary School Personnel
Apart from following the existing standards and frameworks developing partnerships with different stakeholders, school counselors collaborate with postsecondary personnel. School counselors receive information concerning the existing programs, courses, necessary skills, and credentials for students to enter the educational facility. Negotiating and developing different activities aimed at introducing students to postsecondary options. School counselors also try to develop partnerships to ensure the creation of communities where postsecondary education is seen as a norm.
Practical Strategies for Faculty
Each educator can and should incorporate college and career readiness into their curriculum by creating the corresponding assignments, training certain skills necessary in some professional career paths. Empowerment is one of the key strategies to be employed as students can be empowered through building confidence. Teachers can talk about role models and invite people involved in certain fields in order to inspire students to establish and pursue their postsecondary goals. Specific attention should be paid to diversity issues and students’ needs. The peculiarities and needs of such groups as ethnic minorities, underprivileged populations, students with disabilities should be considered.
Facilitating School and Postsecondary Transitions
High-school students often have fears associated with their transition from school to the postsecondary setting. School counselors have the necessary instruments and knowledge to address and eliminate these fears and concerns. The strategies used by school counselors can also be employed by every educator. It is essential to ensure consistency of the effort of all stakeholders, which will bring the best results. Schools counselors and teachers should educate students on various postsecondary options, available resources, existing projects, and programs. Using college standards and assessments can help in identifying gaps in high-schoolers knowledge and skills. It is also vital to involve students’ parents in their children’s academic life.
Sylvia Plath High School has a comprehensive framework to ensure students’ successful transition from the school to the postsecondary setting. This framework is based on the existing standards and models. The successful implementation of the plan and associated projects depends on the effective collaboration of school counselors, teachers, and administrators. Students should receive information and support from different sources, which will facilitate their readiness to choose the right postsecondary and career paths. It is necessary to remember that high-school students need mentoring, guidance, and support. The development of the community where high-schoolers transfer to postsecondary educational settings and later enter the labor market is the key goal of the school. Therefore, it is pivotal to start working more effectively on the implementation of the college and career readiness plan at Sylvia Plath High School.
American School Counselor Association. (2017). The school counselor and career development. Web.
ASCA ethical standards for school counselors. (2016). Web.
ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs. (n.d.). Web.
Eight components of college and career readiness counseling. (2010). Web.
New Jersey School Counselor Association. (n.d.). New Jersey school counselor comprehensive mentoring program. Web.
Royster, P., Gross, J., & Hochbein, C. (2015). Timing is everything: Getting students back on track to college readiness in high school. The High School Journal, 98(3), 208-225.