High School Counselor Week

Weekly stories, facts, trends, and other information from around the country


February 29, 2024

Big Picture

Teachers, parents say kids should learn about racism. Sexuality much more divisive.
USA Today – February 22, 2024
Activists have engaged in fierce debates in recent years over what kids should learn about race, sexual orientation and gender identity. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that while the majority of teachers, students and parents believe it’s important to discuss racism in school, their opinions on other ‘culture war’ subjects are mixed. Most teachers and members of the general public said parents should not be able to opt their kids out of race-related lessons even if that instruction conflicts with a family’s viewpoint. But there’s a great divide over whether LGBTQ-related discussions have a place in the classroom. Half of teachers, for example, say students should not learn about gender identity in school, including nearly 2 in 3 elementary educators. Teens are also split about whether such discussions should take place in the classroom: about a third say the topic makes them uncomfortable.

Some employers are wary of Gen Z workers. What can colleges do?
Higher Ed Dive – February 26, 2024
Call them power skills, durable skills or 21st century skills, but career development experts say it’s time to acknowledge that proficiency in empathy, critical thinking and collaboration are required to be successful in most jobs. Some younger employees aren’t cutting it. And employers are complaining.

Columns and Blogs

A New Approach to College Admissions Testing Policies
Post – February 28, 2024
Counselors’ Corner with Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D.

Campus visit tips for “Rookie Parents”
Post – February 21, 2024
College Advice & Timely Tips with Lee Bierer


Improving Attendance Through Mentorship
Edutopia – February 23, 2024
Schools today not only focus on academic achievement but also have a responsibility to address social, behavioral, and attendance concerns, all of which can impact academics. This can be a challenge, especially with limited funds and resources. Our school created a mentorship program that allowed us to take an individualized approach to address a variety of needs by selecting the most at-risk students and pairing them up with a school employee as a mentor. Though training was crucial, especially in the beginning, the responsibility of the mentors was straightforward: Create a positive relationship with their mentee. It was up to the mentor and the student to figure out a schedule that would work best for both. Mentors within the school were any school employee who volunteered to be in the program, including school counselors, teachers, and administrators. The impact was astounding. Students who typically didn’t enjoy school began having a positive relationship with it and a sense of belonging. Needs could be addressed not with discipline but with positive engagement. The program seems simple, but it truly works.


Staffers alerted Meta that subscription feature on platforms allowed for child exploitation
ABC 7 San Francisco – February 23, 2024
Meta is responding to new claims it didn’t do enough to stop child exploitation on its platforms. According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, two separate teams raised alarms about the issue in internal reports. They found that hundreds of what Meta calls ‘parent-managed minor accounts” were using the subscription feature to sell exclusive content—and that Meta’s own algorithms were promoting child-modeling subscriptions to likely pedophiles.


The Effect of Politics on Teen Mental Health, and 5 Ways to Help Teens Cope
Newport Academy – February 21, 2024
Like most people, teens don’t always understand the nuances of political and world events. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected. Whether it’s the Israel-Gaza war or the US presidential campaign, what happens in the news increases kids’ levels of anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. And with social media bringing them nonstop updates, the effect of politics on teen mental health is much more intense than it used to be. However, when teens experience extreme fear or worry about politics and global strife, they may be struggling with an anxiety disorder or another mental health issue. That’s why parents need to stay closely attuned to their teenager’s reactions, and help them access support if they need it.

I regularly shared photos of my son on social media. Then alarm bells started ringing
The Guardian – February 26, 2024
After a few years of regular sharing, I stumbled upon a campaign by the Child Rescue Coalition that jolted me into a serious rethink, and I started to question how much of my son’s life should be documented and readily available to all. Their Kids for Privacy campaign was a stark reminder of the risks of overexposing our children’s most private moments on social media. Reading the information provided by the campaign, the words ‘vulnerable’, ‘pedophile’ and ‘predators’ felt like daggers. For the first time, I found myself asking: why am I sharing? Who are these photos for? And more importantly, who could they be reaching?

Admissions Process & Strategy

What Students With Physical Disabilities Should Look for in a College
U.S. News & World Report – February 23, 2024
Finding a college that meets accommodation needs is important for the success of some students. Here are some things students with disabilities should know and what to look for when researching colleges.

How HBCUs are building a stronger Black teacher pipeline
Higher Ed Dive – February 20, 2024
Amid ongoing efforts to diversify the K-12 teacher workforce, a United Negro College Fund report finds some historically Black colleges and universities are working to get Black students in the teacher pipeline by tapping into faculty networks, establishing relationships with school districts and using financial aid as a recruitment tool.

Adventures in Admissions: Navigating the Ups and Downs of the College Application Process
Katy Couric Media – February 22, 2024
‘Wherever you go you will be happy.’ ‘Oh, that school is impossible to get into.’ ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ These are just a few of the unsolicited responses I’ve received from friends, strangers, and even my dermatologist when they’re reminded that I’m in the middle of the extremely hectic college admissions process. Are these responses encouraging? Sometimes. Thoughtful? Sort of. Anxiety-provoking? Definitely. As a senior in high school, I’m constantly consumed by college data, researching deadlines, and editing supplemental essays. Understanding that I can only control so much during this process has been difficult.

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Pell Grant program faces a potential budget crisis, fiscal policy group says
Higher Ed Dive – February 23, 2024
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the federal aid program could see a shortfall as high as $95 billion over the next decade.

Here are some strategies to maximize your financial aid for college
CNBC – February 22, 2024
Problems with the new FAFSA have resulted in fewer students applying for financial aid. But it’s not too late for families worried about paying for college next year to get the help they need. These strategies are a good place to start.

A growing number of colleges are rolling out ‘no-loan’ policies. ‘They are giving them out like candy,’ Yale professor says
CNBC – February 28, 2024
Amid a college affordability crisis, several schools are eliminating education debt from the outset. Roughly two dozen colleges and universities now have ‘no-loan’ policies, which means they will meet 100% of an undergraduate’s need for financial aid with grants rather than student loans. Of course, even without loans, students may still be on the hook for the expected family contribution, as well as other costs, including books and fees. There could also be a work-study requirement, depending on the school. ‘No-loan’ doesn’t mean free.

Career & Technical Education

Employers don’t practice what they preach on skills-based hiring, report finds
Higher Ed Dive – February 21, 2024
Skills-based hiring appears to be lagging behind well-meaning ambitions, with most companies not yet making changes to drop degree requirements or increase their share of workers without degrees. Among companies that announced policy changes, about 45% appeared to make a change in name only and had no meaningful difference in hiring behavior, even after removing degree requirements from their postings.

This National CTE Month, Celebrating Multiple Pathways to Student Success
The 74 – February 27, 2024
February is National Career and Technical Education Month, an opportunity to consider how CTE helps young people flourish and reach their potential. Two facts should guide this reflection. First, the K-12 college-for-all model of recent decades does not serve the aspirations and needs of all young people. Second, Americans want opportunity pluralism, believing that many pathways, not just the road to college, lead to meaningful and prosperous careers. CTE differs dramatically from the vocational education of old, which tracked students based on family backgrounds and served as dumping grounds for young people judged as unfit for academic rigor.

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Financial Aid Questions To Ask

sponsored by Fastweb

Financial Aid Questions To Help Students
Questions students can ask the Financial Aid office when discussing aid packages.

Teen Health

With the decline in youth mental health comes another concerning trend, study finds
CNN – February 26, 2024
Many young people have reported having poor mental health during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Their experiences are affirmed by a new study finding that the rate of prescribing antidepressants to this group also spiked during the same period. The number of young people between the ages 12 and 25 receiving antidepressants was already growing before the pandemic.Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the dispensing rate rose nearly 64% faster than normal. However, In female adolescents, the dispensing rate increased 130% faster, and spiked at 60%. ‘In stark contrast,’ one author added, ‘what we see is essentially no change in antidepressant dispensing rate after March 2020 in male young adults, and a surprising decline in antidepressant dispensing rate in male adolescents.’

Phones are distracting students in class. More states are pressing schools to ban them
NBC News – February 27, 2024
The hold that phones have on adolescents in America today is well-documented, but teachers say parents are often not aware to what extent students use them inside the classroom. And increasingly, educators and experts are speaking with one voice on the question of how to handle it: Ban phones during classes. Schools that have done so successfully report it has made a positive difference, including for at least one school test scores that are at or above state averages for the first time in years.