School Counseling: What Is It and Where Do I Start?

Most of us have probably met with a school counselor at some point. Whether they helped us pick classes in high school or sent over our transcript to our top college choices, school counselors serve an essential support role in meeting a student’s needs. They are employed in elementary, middle, and high schools to help students reach their academic, personal, and professional goals by providing essential services, curricula, and resources specifically tailored to each student’s needs.

One primary resource that you can use to learn more about school counseling in the State of Connecticut is through Connecticut’s Official State Website. This is where you can access a Comprehensive School Counseling and College/Career and Citizen-Ready link that provides a more comprehensive overview of what being a school counselor entails, and what accreditation you need if you’d like to become a school counselor yourself.

Regarding accreditation to become a school counselor, Connecticut’s Official State Website states that you must provide “a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling” to be employed, so let’s review graduate options at UConn’s Department of Educational Psychology section on Counseling Education & Counseling Psychology to see what options are available to you should you choose to pursue graduate studies at UConn.

The primary degree option through the Counselor Education program at UConn is a two-year, full-time Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on School Counseling. The prerequisites for enrollment are any Bachelors’ Degree program of study (at least nine credit hours) in social sciences, such as education, sociology, psychology, and the like. This degree is designed to prepare school counselors to meet the needs of a diverse student population and work with students from underrepresented communities. Areas of focus include:

  1. Human Growth and Development
  2. Social and Cultural Diversity
  3. Helping Relationships
  4. Groups
  5. Lifestyle and Career Development
  6. Appraisal
  7. Research and Evaluation
  8. Professional Identity and Ethics
  9. Foundations and Contents of School Counseling
  10. Collaborating/Consulting

An important part of this program is their experiential learning 700-hour school-counseling internship that provides graduate students with an opportunity to provide direct services to students, parents, and teachers within a public school setting, and supervision by an accredited on-site school counselor that aids with professional development.

This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the State of Connecticut, giving students the documentation they need to become a school counselor in Connecticut.

As with any program, requirements are subject to change, so double-check the program website’s requirements to make sure that you meet the admissions standards before applying.

Here are just a few questions for you to consider before you decide to pursue a career as a school counselor:

  • How well have you worked with kids in the past?
  • Do you have the mental acumen necessary to solve difficult problems?
  • What steps would you take to build trust?
  • When have you experienced working under pressure?
  • Which part of working with a student are you looking forward to the most? What makes you uncomfortable about working with a student?

The list above is also a list of common school counselor interview questions, so keep that in mind. These questions outline possible scenarios that you may encounter in a school environment.

Deciding on whether you would like to pursue a career in school counseling can be difficult as there are many factors to consider before committing. If you would like more information on school counseling or would like some help with filling out your graduate school application, feel free to schedule an appointment with a Career Coach at the UConn Center for Career Development to review your application materials or talk with you about your interests and needs.

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

By Victoria
Victoria Victoria