I made the wrong choice by approaching one about my depression when I was in the 9th grade.
Since my school changes our schedules every semester, I had never quite experienced something like this before, being a newcomer to the high school experience. The sudden change of classes sent me into an emotional void and I was saddened greatly. When I sat in her office, crying, she started asking me questions about my homelife. She seemed to have the idea that every troubled child was truly sad because of a bad homelife. Granted, my homelife isn't exactly the Christian Family Network but more along the lines of Daria, and this had nothing to do with that. I even tried to explain it to her.

Also, last year when I was in the tenth grade, before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I had a certain manic episode in which during I wrote crude words on the computer in my literary magazine advisor's classroom. Thinking she was doing the right thing, she turned it in to the guidance counseler (a different one from the last story) and I was called in to her office during my history class. She was telling me, that from reading this thing I had written in 72 point font in less than a minute, that she knew I had the soul of a poet. Continuing, she asked me how I felt. For one single moment, I felt understood as I explained that I was more of an outcast among those around me, and that I felt like I was on the outside looking in. She said I needed to get out more and do things. She didn't think there was anything wrong with me because I had colorful barettes in my hair (in her own words, "Well anyone that has a guitar and rabbit barrette in their hair SURELY can't be that sad!"). I scoffed at her and her weird assumptions, and left. I never spoke to her again. I was angry that she had won the teacher of the month award for my school district. I plan never to see one of these women again unless it has something to do with fixing my grades.

My experience with guidance counselors turned sour at a very young age. I believe the first time I ever met with a guidance counselor he ticked me off.

We were instructed to list three occupations that we would be interested in pursuing after graduating from high school. I was in seventh grade at the time. I put teacher on my list because that was something that I had always wanted to do and I also put sports caster on there cos I loved sports. I couldn't think of a third thing to put on there so I left it blank. Well when it came time to meet with the guidance counselor he ignored the fact that I hadn't chosen three occupations, he ignored the sports caster bit, and focused directly on me becoming a teacher. I asked him several times about the sports caster thing but he just gave me that, you're a girl look and changed the subject. The next year we had to do the same thing and this time I dind't bother to put teacher on the list, I just wrote sportscaster, PR manager for sports team and left the third choice blank. When I entered his office to discuss it he had crossed my two choices off and wrote in teacher for the third choice. Again, we didn't discuss anything else.

When I was in ninth grade I got to pick my courses for the first time ever. When I went in to his office he had already filled out the entire sheet and tried to insist that I take a typing class. I refused. He insisted. I refused. Finally I came up with the phrase that pays 'My parents said I didn't have to {take typing}'. He gave me that 'but you're a girl' look again and I smiled cos I knew I had won this battle.

I successfully avoided my guidance counselor until the very end of my junior year of high school. I had to schedule myself for classes again and I was really excited about taking Latin. I thought it would be really cool to learn Latin. This woman actually had the nerve to tell me that I could not take Latin because I was already taking Spanish and I might get the two confused. I said, I am taking Spanish and English right now and I don't have a problem seperating those. We argued but eventually I gave in because I remembered that it was going to be my senior year and I didn't really want to work too hard.

Then my senior year I ended up with an entirely new guidance counselor which makes no sense since she was the one that had to write all my college recommendations. What an idiot she was. I was in the National Honor's Society, I was a high honor roll student and she had the nerve to tell me that she didn't think that a four year school was the thing for me. I was livid! She told me not to bother to take the SATs. I did take the SATs and I scored very well. But I wasn't really sure how well I had done in comparison to other people. She mentioned that she knew the admissions people at RIT and so I asked her if she thought I had a shot at getting in. She looked at my SATs scores and gave me this pitiful look and said, well you might be able to get in. I found out later that I had scored 200 above the average incoming freshman. She also sat on my recommendation for a very long time. What a bitch.
"I want to major in English, and maybe computer science."

"So you want to be a teacher, eh?" Mr. Barry, my guidance counselor, a man with a scarred face and I still can't remember if he seemed honestly like he gave a damn or not.

"No. I don't want to teach High School kids."

"Grammar School, then?"

"No. No teaching children. I want to write." I could see the horror, there. I had only recently come out as a writer. I had given up acting dumb, and I wanted to do something I love.

"Well, maybe you should have a back-up plan."

Huh? Going through my own life assuming failure? "No, that's all right."

"Perhaps a community college would be a good idea . . ."

But I wasn't listening. I had, roughly, this nasty epiphany:

Those who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours.

and this:

No one dreams of being a guidance counselor.

And we trust our children's future to such people.

Guidance counselors are PEOPLE.  Some are bad, and some are good.

I was lucky enough to get a terrific one.  She never judged, always supported my slightly off-the-wall career choices and opinions, and at the last convinced my parents and I into looking into sending me to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--a school very few people outside of Illinois go to.  Being from New York, I certainly hadn't heard of it before.

But, after doing some research and visiting it, it turns out that UIUC is one of the best engineering schools in the nation and is generally considered the "best kept secret in America."

I'm convinced that I'm ten times happier than I would have been at MIT (which I would have had the subject of UIUC never been brought up), and I have Ms. Corrazatta to thank for it.

Just as with all things, your mileage may vary.

My high school guidance counselor was also a complete moron. High school was the first time I went to a public school, so it was a big change. I could have used some good advice. Instead, she told me to take classes that were really below my level, so that once I knew what was up I had to take extra classes to play catch-up. Also, you'd think that your guidance councilor would act partially as your advocate with the school, but instead she always fought me on everything tooth and nail. She resisted every time I wanted to take harder levels of classes. My school had the policy that if you missed more than x days of a class in a semester you would lose credit for that class, no matter how well you did. I had really, really severe allergies to the point where I stayed home from school sometimes, and I was just often sick otherwise. So I exceeded the x days, and I lost credit for two classes (in which I got an A and a B). Rather than taking up my side, or at least being understanding, she backed the school 100% saying, "They don't owe you anything."

Now, here's the kicker:

At the beginning of my junior year we took the PSAT/NMSQT (the second part is for "National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test" which will be important). When we got them back, I had gotten a pretty high score. In fact, I had qualified to be a national merit semifinalist...only, apparently my guidance counselor and the others who were running the thing gave us the wrong test. There was a Tuesday test and a Saturday test, and they gave us the Tuesday test on Saturday, so the results were invalidated by the National Merit Scholarship people. They said we could count our first try at the SAT as our National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, but I didn't do nearly as well on that. (I found it takes me a few tries to get into my "groove" on a standardized test, so I did eventually do more than well enough on the SAT but not the first time.) Now, it's unlikely that I would have gotten a National Merit Scholarship, but some schools will admit you and even give you scholarships automatically on the basis of being a semi-finalist. Since I didn't have much money or good grades, I sorely need this, but I was denied due to my guidance counselor's incredible incompetence.

On a final note I'll say this: I don't believe all guidance counselors are bad. There must be some good ones out there, but it would be a hard, frustrating, and often unrewarding job. I'd just say that if you're in high school, don't implicitly trust your guidance councilor. Get a second opinion. Learn whether he know what he's talking about or he's an incompetent bitch. Finally, there are good guidance counselors types out there. The advisor I had in college as an undergraduate (a staff member, not a faculty member) was phenomenal: She was very nice and genuinely cared, everyone loved her, and she could get almost anything done in about five minutes. She was a goddess! But sadly, she eventually left.

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