What Does a School Counselor Do?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 March 2014
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A school counselor is a trained professional who helps to steer children toward academic achievement. A counselor can play a very important role in the overall success of a student. He or she will generally work as a mentor, assuring that students are given that extra bit of inspiration to achieve academic goals. If a student is having problems in classes, he or she may be sent to a counselor to try to get to the root of the problem. To become a school counselor, a person will be required to obtain a college degree and possibly certain licenses.

Often referred to as a guidance counselor, a school counselor serves as a guide to students in grade school. Counselors are generally employed by elementary, middle and high schools. The duties of the counselor may depend on where he or she is employed. For younger students, counselors may help children develop social skills. These skills may include sharing, speaking in turn and learning to communicate with others in a socially acceptable way.


At the middle and high school level, a school counselor may help students improve their study skills. The counselor may work with students in teaching them how to prioritize their time. Often, middle and high school students take on several extracurricular activities. Sometimes, school work will take a back seat to these out-of-classroom pastimes. If a teacher notices that a student's grades have started to fall, possibly as the result of too many extra activities, he or she may be sent to a counselor for some guidance on managing extracurricular activities while maintaining good grades.

The student-parent-teacher relationship can become strained. For this reason, a counselor may be needed to intervene and repair such relationships. Sometimes, it is difficult for students to communicate with their parents and teachers. Additionally, it can often become problematic for parents and teachers to communicate just as well. For cases such as these, counselors may serve as mediators by sitting in on school conferences between these parties to ensure the meetings go in a fashion that will be beneficial for all, in particular the student.

A great deal of the work of a school counselor is to prepare students for life after school. The counselor will generally spend a lot of time preparing students for careers in the outside world. Preparations may begin as early as elementary school by helping students improve test-taking skills which will later be useful in taking academic placement tests. In high school, the counselor may work with students preparing for college by assisting them with college applications. For students who will head straight into the workforce after graduation, a counselor may assist students with job searching skills.


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