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Career Pathways, Post-Secondary Options…Call on the Experts

A teacher leans over a desk and writes in a notebook where a high school girl student works on a laptop

We call in the experts when we need brake service on our car, electrical work in our home, or tax planning for our future. The experts who our students can turn to about career pathways and post-secondary options are in our schools, poised to guide, advocate for, and support students on their journey. They are school counselors.

Why School Counselors? They have:

  • Training in career development through graduate work and professional development
  • Knowledge on all things career related
  • Connections with stakeholders in schools, businesses, higher education, and the community
  • Accessibility to resources
  • Expertise in child development and the interplay of academic, social/emotional, and career growth

Where are School Counselors?

  • In many districts in the country
  • In high schools and often in elementary and middle schools
  • In classrooms, offices, hallways, and cafeterias working tirelessly on behalf of students

What do School Counselors provide?

  • Career and post-secondary planning lessons
  • Individual planning conferences
  • Parent information nights
  • Career related materials
  • Exposure to various career pathways and post-secondary options

What else?

On the journey to adulthood, students benefit from experts in the field who can guide them as they explore and choose post-secondary options and career pathways. Likewise, the journey often requires support for mental health, school safety and climate, and personal/social issues, making the journey topsy-turvy at times. School counselors are the go-to experts in all these areas, making them indispensable to the school team and students.

A fitting example is my niece Alexandria’s story. A week before the semester ended, she decided to graduate early in order to pursue her dream of doing international mission work. Her school counselor (and also the 2019 Wisconsin School Counselor of the Year!) rallied for Alexandria, making her dream a reality. Alexandria requested a meeting and proposed the idea of graduating early. Her school counselor responded immediately and helped Alexandria verify her graduation credit requirements and community service hours, set up a meeting with administration and parents, problem-solved obstacles, and laid out the steps required to choose this option. The individual planning conferences led by school counselors for students every year made this process flawless – Alexandria’s coursework was on track, her post-secondary options were planned out, and her ACP portfolio was complete. Alexandria will spend what would have been the second semester of her senior year working as a certified nursing assistant in order to save money for college. This will allow her to take time off during the summer to serve our international family in Honduras or Uganda as a mission worker. The Academic and Career Program at Burlington High School, directed by school counselors, provided the opportunity for Alexandria to earn her CNA certification through high school coursework, gain experience for her upcoming program of study in nursing, graduate early, and give back to the world through volunteerism. This is one of thousands of stories that demonstrate the impact school counselors have on post-secondary options and career pathways planning.

As staunch advocates for students, families, and education, school counselors are here to serve our nation’s children and help them become the brightest and the best they can be. Every day, school counselors make a difference in the lives of students.

National School Counseling Week, Feb. 4-8, 2019 features this impactful work of school counselors to prepare students in academic, career, and personal/social areas. Celebrate the “Lessons for Life” that school counselors provide students by reaching out and calling on a school counselor to learn more about their work.


Andrea Donegan is a school counselor advocating for students at Dyer Intermediate and in her home state of Wisconsin.  She is honored to serve as a 2019 School Ambassador Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education. 

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