People are always asking… what does a day in the life of a high school counselor look like? Here are some things to expect for new counselors, interns, people thinking about career changes, grad school students, and counselors at elementary and middle school levels thinking about making the jump to a high school.
What My Day Looks Like as a High School Counselor
I try to schedule seeing students when they are in elective classes or just drop by in the hallways if it’s not about something confidential. I may be checking in with individual students about grades (I’ll run a failure report to see where everyone stands on a given day or after a grading period), following up with students after a previous individual counseling session, or touching base with a student based on a referral from a teacher, administrator, or parent. Depending on the time of year, I may be running a specific small group (like my Stress Management Small Group or First Generation Small Group) or training my Student Ambassadors. As a high school counselor working with all grade levels, there is a lot of post-secondary planning, and I love this! I meet with my seniors every fall to solidify their plans (or at least start the conversation for the year). Our school counseling program makes it a priority to be in classrooms doing lessons each semester for ALL students! We do classroom lessons on mindfulness, stress management, classroom community, communication, soft skills, and more!
What the Beginning of the School Year Looks Like for High School Counselors
If we zoom back and look at the beginning of our school year, we can talk about some of our systems and procedures. Our department officially starts back about a week before teachers get back in the building. This gives us some quiet time to get back in the groove without being interrupted by meetings and drop-ins. During this week, we are spending a lot of our time scheduling new enrollments, so these students have a smooth start to their school year. During this prep week, we think about what we need to present to teachers and administrators for the year about our roles. I usually take down an old bulletin board and hang up a new bulletin board or two like this Hidden Gems Bulletin Board or the On Point Bulletin Board to introduce our school counselors.
What the End of the School Year Looks Like for High School Counselors
After I’ve finished all of my very school-focused things to close out the school year, I shift gears and open up my big binder of printed schedules for the next school year. I spend about 2 weeks challenging myself to work quickly and efficiently to make the best class schedules for my students. Our district computer systems shut down for a rollover for about two weeks where we couldn’t work even if we wanted to (which is a great excuse for a vacation). Our offices are open in the summer on select days for enrollment, and a clerk and/or a counselor help with that.
In the life of a high school counselor, there can be a lot of immediate responsiveness to chaos, but there should also be a good mix of planning and control overall to ensure SMART program goals are being met throughout the year. With the right planning and teamwork, all students can be served through your comprehensive school counseling program. While everyone’s school and district are different, all of us high school counselors do very similar things!