What to Expect if You’re Moving to High School Counseling [Episode 74]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

Are you a new high school counselor, or thinking about moving to high school counseling from elementary or middle school counseling? If so, today’s episode is for you. My entire counseling career has taken place solely in a high school setting, and to be honest, I can’t imagine it any other way! I want to share with you what to expect as a high school counselor so that you can step into this role with confidence and excitement.
There is no doubt that there are some major differences between counseling in elementary or middle school vs. counseling in high school, mainly because of the stage that these students are at in their lives. High school students may have more complex needs, but this provides an opportunity for you to have real-world conversations and give them invaluable tools that will impact their relationships for years to come.
Each level of counseling presents its own unique pros and cons, and you have to decide which plays to your strengths. I may be biased, but I stand firm in my belief that high school counseling is where it’s at. So, if you’re considering moving to high school counseling, come on over! I’ll be here to support you along the way.
If you’re preparing for a high school counseling interview, check out my free three-day video challenge. Sign up here!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • Differences between high school counseling and counseling in elementary or middle school.
  • Benefits of working with high school students (Yes, this job is way more than just paperwork!)
  • The depth of issues high school students face, such as family changes, relationship issues, and complex needs.
  • Pressure to perform well as a high school counselor, including graduation rates, dropout rates, and promotion and retention rates.
  • Examples of boundaries to set for yourself if you’re moving to high school counseling
  • A listener story of someone who used my interviewing resources and was offered a position right away.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

You’re listening to Episode 74 of high school counseling conversations. Listen up newish high school counselors, I’ve got a new resource in the works for you because so many of you are in your first through fifth years as a high school counselor. Meaning you’re searching for answers on what to do next, trying to figure out how not to burn out while still providing impactful services for students. I’m building an audio only course. Think a private podcast feed that you can listen to when it’s convenient for you. It’ll have practical steps for you to step into your high school counselor role with confidence early on in your career. If you’re curious about everything that’ll be inside of this resource, go ahead and get yourself on the waitlist by going to counselorclique.com/audio. I can’t wait to tell you more.

I can’t speak to what it’s like to work in an elementary or middle school because well, my only experiences with those are what I had during my internships. My entire job experience, my entire career was working in a high school and tbh I liked it that way. I didn’t need to have jobs in elementary or middle to know that I was cut out for high school, it was where I absolutely thrived. Even having my own younger kids has reassured me that I guess I could do it if I had to. But I still love the highs and the lows of being a high school counselor.

I want you to consider the things about high school counseling if you’re thinking about making that leap from elementary or middle school to high school, or maybe your role is shifting and you’ll now cover K through 12 or six through 12. And you’re wondering what might be coming down the pipeline. Here are some things to think about that you’ll encounter in high school counseling that may be different from working with the younger grades. Let’s get into this week’s episode.

You got into this profession to make a difference in your students lives, but you’re spread thin by all the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my counselor clique where you’ll finally catch your breath. Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren tingle your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.

In high school students do have similar issues as those younger grades but the depth of them manifests differently with the older students. You’ll see family changes like divorce and grief, but the students will have more depth in their processing. They’ll be able to vocalize more advanced feelings like guilt, shame, embarrassment around their situations.

Yes, you’ll see relationship issues like the friendship issues that you see in elementary, but you’ll probably see more romantic relationship issues, maybe more breakups and communication casualties. You’ll see more of that with high school students than you do with the younger students. High school students needs they just be more complex in general.

But this gives you an opportunity to dig into some real world conversation skills that they will take with them for years to come. You truly do have an opportunity to make a really big impact here. You get to give students tools that will take that impact deep into their relationships for years to come.

I love the independence that you get to facilitate and watch develop as you work with high school students. You get to practice a skill and you get to hear them come back and report to you how it went and whether it was successful or not. You also can be a little more direct or real with them like a loving parent or someone who takes a genuine interest in their well being and then wants to see them succeed, even if that sometimes means a little tough love.

Next, there will be more paperwork in the high school setting. But let me assure you, it will not define you. Especially if you anticipate it and you have that expectation ahead of time. You’ll have to send transcripts, you’ll have to write letters of recommendation, and you’ll definitely send more emails. And part of this is because your students will communicate with you more outside of being sent by their teacher. They’ll make appointments with you, they’ll come to see you more than just a one on one setting in your office that they were sent down to talk to you about.

But all of these are appropriate and supportive roles that help your students like you get to be excited about them. Even if it means more emails, more things that you’re doing for them that requires seemingly like behind the scenes stuff. There are appropriate supportive roles for your students. If you set some boundaries for yourself, though, you’ll be able to get done what you need to get done. Even if it’s up until the last minute.

I did not feel bad for submitting things all the way up to the deadline that they needed to be in because that’s just the life of a high school counselor working all the way up to that deadline. And that is okay. You’ll definitely do more academic counseling in the high school setting and you probably anticipated this. From talking to students about failing grades to planning what classes they’ll take next year to exploring College and Career Pathways looming in the near distant future.

You’ll also search for scholarships with them. You’ll help uncover financial aid options right alongside them as they’re trying to figure that out. It’s okay to shut your door and get the paperwork side of things done. But you’ll want to make sure you schedule in the time to check in with your students. You want to have that direct one on one time with your students, if you want to remember why you love your job. If you don’t let it turn into just paperwork, then it will not.

You can choose to drown in the paperwork, or you can choose to make it a priority to get it done and move on and then come back for more because it will pile up. But don’t let the paperwork burn you out. You know ahead of time that there will be more paperwork or more communication than elementary and middle school counseling.

There will also be busier times of year for this like writing those letters of recommendation, ensuring that your seniors are getting all the way to graduation, and getting everyone in the right classes during registration season. But these are the exceptions and not the rule. So I want you to remember that.

I’m warning you that you will feel cross eyed as you flip through these pages of transcripts and schedules. I wish you could see me right now I’m pretending to flip through those giant binders. However, if you set some solid boundaries for yourself, and then actually go in counsel students as well, you’ll stand strong through this I promise.

It’s time to level up your confidence for your upcoming High School Counseling interviews and help you secure the job of your dreams. When you sign up for my free three day video challenge, you’ll get a few short videos to watch on your own time. These will come to your inbox over the course of three days to help you prepare for your next high school counseling interview. Join the hundreds of other school counselors who have gone before you and watch these same videos. I think I legally can’t guarantee that they’ll get you the job. But they’ll sure as heck make the interviews feel more approachable. Grab my free job interview video series by going to counselorclique.com/interviews. Now back to the show.

Lastly, in the high school setting, you can definitely expect more pressure. Now here’s the thing, some people thrive under the pressure. Some want to crumble and crawl into a hole. It’s kind of important that you decide where you fall in that. But I think high school counseling offers a good amount of thrilling change in the day to day.

There’s a pressure to perform your job well as a high school counselor that elementary and middle school counselors don’t necessarily feel when it comes to you graduation rates, dropout rates, promotion and retention rates. These are huge measurements of success to principals and those who sit above the principals. You’ll feel the weight of these things all the time of high school counselor.

The good thing is though you’re not doing it alone. Even if you’re a solo school counselor, others should be bearing this weight in your building to whether it’s the attendance clerk tracking down students when they’re not there or following up on where they went if they left your school, the resource officer, the assistant principal, any interventionist or social workers. There are definitely others who are providing services to students to it’s not just you.

If you’re still in the phase where you’re deciding if high school counseling is for you not you know that I’m a little biased, but I would say it’s the best. If you decide to make the leap, pop back over here, you know where to find me. Even for my experiences as an intern, and then the other levels, I do know that elementary, middle and high school each present all have their own unique differences. These may play to your strengths, or you may find some aspects difficult to be honest.

Consider shaking it up by switching it over to high school. You’ll find some major differences for sure, but it might be the refresher, you need to keep you excited and motivated as a school counselor. So jump on in the water’s fine.

Before we go, I wanted to share a DM I got from Jenny who used my interviewing resources. She messaged me saying she interviewed at 8:30 and then was offered the position at 11:30 the exact position she had been hoping for. Obviously, I can’t promise that my resources will get you the job because there are a lot of factors that go into that. But I can promise that they’ll prepare you and build your confidence going into the interviews.

Since there’s no risk for a free resource. Go ahead and get my interview prep videos to your email inbox by going to counselorclique.com/interviews to see for yourself. Join me back here next week to hear about what not to do over the summer as a new high school counselor. I know you’re gonna love it.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of high school counseling conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at counselorclique.com/podcast Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcasts so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM at counselorclique that C L I Q U E. I’ll see you next week.

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Cheers + Happy Listening!

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