High school guidance counselors aren’t meant to have it easy. As if helping students to deal with a vast variety of both personal and professional issues wasn’t enough, high school guidance counselors have to weather the inevitable storm of college application time; when students are up to their neck in the sea of essays and personal statements.
For many high school counselors, however, there is the added responsibility of trying to project an image that is not only positive but also unique; many universities require that high school guidance counselors draft an essay termed the ‘Secondary School Report’ which is submitted to the university along with the student’s official academic transcript. The nature of the report is based on the counselor’s perspective of the student; what he/she thinks make him/her different from the rest, paying particular attention to not only that student’s performance in the academic field but also outside of it.
The relevance of the question posed to high school guidance counselors notwithstanding, (it adequately gives a comprehensive picture of what to expect from the student), it requires a great amount of energy, time and effort on behalf of the high school guidance counselor. As many high school guidance counselors are already swamped with work deadlines on a regular basis, there is virtually no time left to develop a proper connection with the student which could probably help the counselor determine the uniqueness of that student’s personality.
As a result, many high school guidance counselors resort to writing standard essays; a one-size-fits-all where, at the most, a name or a particular characteristic of the student is changed in order to ensure a degree of non-uniformity. This is the only way to ensure that all deadlines are met, which is problematic because it does not guarantee the qualitative data that university applications are looking for.
On the other side of the coin, universities are also unnecessarily complicating the process. By making the ‘Secondary School Report’ obligatory to draft, universities are putting high school guidance counselors in a tough spot, despite many college applications requiring two separate essays drafted on behalf of teachers which effectively should defeat the very purpose of such a report.
As far as high school guidance counselors are concerned, all that is needed is a little bit of organized efficiency whereby they can view important factors related to a student’s development and performance at school such as school-related achievements, possible disciplinary actions and extra-curricular activities through either a checklist or a short-answer section.
Until and unless these changes happen and as long as university applications continue to include such reports, there remains little hope that high school guidance counselors will get any slack around college application time. Yet, this may be the impetus needed for high schools to start looking into revamping their school counseling system and instead develop greater contact and interaction between high school guidance counselors and students in order to ensure that students get the assistance and guidance they need.