In terms of the education system and the student experience, few play as an important role as a school counselor. A school counselor plays a vital role in providing support, advice, and resources for students that might be struggling for any number of reasons and will help them to find success not only in the classroom but in life both now and in the future. The work can be hard and sometimes upsetting as a school counselor, but it is also incredibly rewarding as you get to make such a positive impact on the lives of students that need help, support, and guidance in school and out. Here are a few of the main things that you need to know about this very important role.
Employment Is Set To Grow
A hugely important factor to consider when planning to start a career path is employment, as you will want to find a field that is growing so that you can find work without too much difficulty. Fortunately, the employment of school counselors is set to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029, which is actually twice the national average. This is thought to be because of the rising student enrollment in elementary, middle, and high school, along with the fact that the number of students needing services is predicted to grow. Mental health is becoming a major issue with today’s youth and will be accelerated by the pandemic, so the need for great school counselors will be high moving forward. This also means that work in this field can be stable as well as lucrative, so now could certainly be a good time to register for an online masters in school counseling and to get the ball rolling on your career.
You Can Earn An Online Masters In School Counseling
It is recommended that you earn a masters in order to prepare for this challenging role, and most now earn an online masters in school counseling. An online masters in school counseling will prepare you to become a licensed school counselor and allow you to develop strong professional foundations, cultivate a spirit of service, and develop deeper human perspectives so that you can understand and help the students that need it. Additionally, the online masters in school counseling can be studied entirely online, which makes it flexible and allows you to find the best online masters in school counseling program, no matter where you are located.
It Is Incredibly Rewarding, but Sometimes Distressing
This is a role that is incredibly rewarding and can provide great job satisfaction. School is such an important time for a young person’s education and development, but many have difficulties at school for many different reasons. Working with these pupils, developing trust, and helping them to find success in the classroom and out of it is the biggest perk of the job, and there will be positive experiences that will stick with you for life. In addition to helping students to succeed in school, a school counselor can often set a struggling student up for a much brighter future in both their career and their personal life, too, so there is the chance to really make a difference in the lives of young people with this role.
While it is rewarding, when you are dealing with students that are struggling, it means that the role can also be distressing, and you will deal with difficult situations every day. You will have students with mental health issues, those that are resistant to any kind of authority and those with difficult situations at home, and this can be hard, especially when you struggle to make a difference. Ultimately, this is all part of the job, and you need to use what you learn on the online masters in school counseling and your best judgment to manage these cases and find the best solutions. On top of this, you will also face resistance from pupils and are likely to receive verbal abuse, so you need to be able to not let this affect you and understand that it is not personal. It is often these really difficult cases that are the most rewarding when you are able to help, so you need to exercise patience and try to build trust (more on this to come).
Every Situation Is Unique
Leading on from this, every student that you encounter will be completely unique, so what works for one student may not work on another. You will be taught the key skills, strategies, and theories on an online masters in school counseling, but you also need to realize that you are not dealing with textbook examples, and every single case will be unique in one way or another. While this is challenging, this is also what makes the job rewarding and interesting as no two days are ever the same, and you must give each student your complete focus and attention.
You Need To Be Able To Build Trust
A school counselor can only succeed when they are able to build trust and rapport with the students that they are helping. This means that you need to be able to develop relationships, engage with young people and show them that you have their best interests in mind. While you certainly need to be friendly, positive, and approachable, you also need to maintain boundaries, and this can be a fine line to walk. You also need to be authoritative at times, especially when dealing with trouble makers.
You Need To Be Good With Young People
In order to build trust, you need to be able to connect with today’s younger generations which means that you need to be in touch and aware of the latest trends but avoid trying to be cool, and again this can be hard to get right. You also need to be able to connect with people of different ages and backgrounds, so having excellent communication skills is a must. If you feel that this could be an area that you struggle with, you should find a way to spend more time around young people, whether this is voluntary work, picking up new hobbies, or spending time with loved ones that have children.
You Need To Engage With The Parents
It is not just the students that you will need to develop relationships and build trust with, as you must also maintain communication with the parents. You need to be able to see each situation holistically, and often it is problems at home that cause issues in school and vice versa. In order to improve the situation for the student, it often involves working as a team, including the student, parents, and teachers, so you need to be able to co-ordinate, keep everyone on the same page and build trust.
Support Staff Play A Key Role
In addition to teachers and parents, there will also be various support staff that can play a vital role in helping students that are struggling. Psychologists, nurses and social workers will all be people that you need to be able to work with and develop positive working relationships with. Make sure that you are connecting with relevant support staff and using their expertise to help your students.
It Helps To Consult With Others
As every student and situation is unique, it means that sometimes you will be stuck. You may have the theory from your online masters in school counseling, but in practice, it might not work for that particular individual. In situations like this, you should not be too proud to reach out for support and advice from others. This might involve joining an online community of school counselors and asking for advice, online research, or consulting with other school counselors that you have met along the way. Just remember to never divulge any personal information about the case itself.
You Need To Be Easy To Contact & Approachable
A school counselor will always be busy, but you also need to make it easy for students, teachers, and parents to raise any issues with you. This often comes from the teachers or parents first, but you need to encourage students to come forward if they are having any difficulties, and this means that you must also be approachable. Additionally, you also need to be discreet as often pupils will be embarrassed and not want their peers to know that they are having any kind of difficulties and again trust is very important here.
It Is Demanding
Being a school counselor is not your ordinary role and one which is incredibly demanding. Every student and parent will want to be your priority, but as established earlier, the number of students needing the services of a counselor is on the rise, which means that you need to be able to manage and prioritize your workload. Additionally, this means that this is not a role that you can simply forget about when you leave school each day, and it can sometimes interfere with your personal life.
You Need To Look After Your Own Mental Health
Leading on from this, as work that can be so demanding and often upsetting, it is also vital that you look after your own mental health and reach out for support if you need it. Looking after your own mental health should include enjoying your free time, finding ways to de-stress, getting enough sleep, regular exercise, having an active social life, and eating a healthy diet. Additionally, many people in stressful professions like this find that meditation can be immensely helpful and could even improve your performance.
You Need To Keep Learning
While you will learn what you need to know to prepare for a role as a school counselor with an online masters in school counseling, it is important to realize that the learning does not stop here. You should always be looking to learn more and improve so that you can provide the best possible service for the students and your school, which means that you need to take the time to keep learning, whether this is attending relevant events, reading journals, or developing new skills to help you excel.
Every Day Is Different
Another aspect of this role that many people enjoy is that no two days are ever the same. As you are constantly dealing with students that are unique and having different difficulties, it makes the work incredibly varied and interesting. Obviously, this means that you need to be flexible, ready for anything, and able to react quickly and make the right decisions, but this is all part of the excitement for those that enjoy their role.
You Need To Be Observant
Communication obviously plays a major role when it comes to being a school counselor, but communication is not always effective, especially when dealing with young people. This is why a good school counselor is also one that is observant and able to read people. Bullying, eating disorders, anxiety, self-harm, and troubles at home are just a few of the very serious issues that you will be dealing with and not always issues that people will come forward with. This is why you need to be observant, and this can make all the difference when it comes to providing support and finding the best path forward for those that are having difficulties at school.
These are just a few of the main things that you need to know about being a school counselor. This is one of the most rewarding roles that there is, and there is growing demand, so now is a great time to start an online masters in school counseling, but it is also important to realize the challenges of this role and how it can be stressful, upsetting and demanding. Due to the fact that you get to make such a big difference to the lives of students that are struggling in the short and long-term, it is all worth it, though, and working with these students will be an unforgettable experience that provides great job satisfaction when you are able to help.