I'm not part of the team, but I felt compelled to do it anyways.

No, I once dreamed of becoming a guidance counselor. During the sophomore year of high school, (okay, I'll admit, I'm only a senior now...) I knew that I wanted to do something along the lines of helping teenagers. Depressed, anorexic/bulimic, etc., tendencies often manifest themselves in numerous ways - one of them was my desire to make sure that others would not go through with the same thing. What better way to help than be a high school guidance counselor?

I had a few good teachers, but I figured that a good guidance counselor would be so much more beneficial. After all, teachers don't have nearly the sort of power to help that counselors do in touchy situations.

I was soon thrown from that high horse. Very, very quickly and violently.


  • In many of the districts in my state, you have to be a teacher first. Guidance counselors are often found when vacancies occur. Both of our current counselors were English teachers.
  • My counselor (covering N-Z of the alphabet) mispronounced many words such as plethora and antiquated during our eighth grade orientation speech.
  • The other counselor (A-M) works at Wines and Spirits, the name of Pennsylvania's state liquor store chain. Not a bad thing in of itself, but I can't see this sending a very good example to the students.
  • Told me I was silly to take the AP English class, when I recieved a 760 on my verbal SAT's, and
  • Broke the rule of confidence when he told the majority of the administration (of my very small school... >800 students) of my time spent in an eating disorder clinic.

I'm more into the idea of social work now... but I'm not in college yet. We'll see.

I must say, I am very jealous of RimRod's experience in Why you shouldn't listen to high school guidance counselors. But ultimately, he is right - ymmv.

No one dreams of becoming a guidance counselor? Well, not exactly. But some people are naturally good at it. Most of these people are not guidance counselors.

At my high school, we had three guidance counselors - the head counselor was full-time and the other two were 0.8 FTE (part-time). The part-timers had no idea what they were doing; one was a Spanish teacher who was grossly incompetent, and the other was never in her office, EVER, when I was there (and of course she was my assigned counselor), which meant I mostly just dealt with the head honcho of the department.

Ms. Joy, my de facto counselor, was an amazing counselor. She's retired now, along with probably 90% of my favorite teachers from high school, but she was the one you wanted to go to with any problem, scheduling or personal or whatever.

Even now, at community college, the counselors are completely unhelpful. I spent an hour looking at a website for transfer information, then went to the counseling office - and was referred to the same website with no new information. Thanks for wasting my time, guys.

So what's the point of all this? I'm slowly learning that the problems people have with their high school and community college counselors are, at least to some extent, universal. Your mileage may vary, after all. But that's what's made me decide to be a guidance counselor rather than a teacher. Sure, it's a rough gig and it gets a bum rap. And of course there are reasons why you shouldn't listen to high school guidance counselors and why people say things like those who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours. But I want to be the exception to the rule and make some kids actually think back and remember me as the "good" counselor. We'll see.

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