High School Counselor Week

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


August 31, 2023

Big Picture

Affirmative action for rich kids: It’s more than just legacy admissions
NPR – July 24, 2023
Affirmative action for minority kids may now be dead. But a blockbuster new study, released today, finds that, effectively, affirmative action for rich kids is alive and well. They may or may not always do it on purpose, but a group of the most prestigious private colleges in America are handing a massive admissions advantage to rich kids over less affluent kids. Among a number of other discoveries, the economists find that kids from the richest 1% of American families are more than twice as likely to attend the nation’s most elite private colleges as kids from middle-class families with similar SAT scores.

Black history is under attack across US from AP African American Studies to ‘Ruby Bridges’
USA Today – April 2, 1902
Opportunities to learn a more inclusive version of the country’s history are, after decades of advocacy and activism, becoming more common in the nation’s public schools. And already, they’re being stamped out. Republican political leaders in 44 states have since 2021 proposed legislation or policies restricting lessons about race and racism in the US – what many inaccurately decry as a graduate-level framework called ‘critical race theory.’ As of June, 18 states had such laws on the books. Here are a few moments from the past year that show how education has changed in the anti-CRT era – whether by sanitizing the uncomfortable truths or by fighting for those truths to come out.

From ‘crisis’ to ‘catastrophe,’ schools scramble once again to find teachers
NBC News – August 13, 2023
School districts are once again scrambling to fill jobs as teacher shortages aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic show little signs of improving for yet another school year, according to more than a dozen academic researchers, teachers and administrators in rural, suburban and urban school districts. Many are also at the center of a pitched culture war as politicians accuse them of trying to indoctrinate children and turn their syllabuses into campaign fodder.

University of Chicago to pay $13.5M to settle allegations of financial aid price-fixing
Higher Ed Dive – August 14, 2023
In early 2022, students and alumni filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that more than a dozen top-ranked colleges illegally colluded to lower the amount of financial assistance they offered. The defendant institutions were all at one time members of the since-shuttered 568 Presidents Group, whose member colleges coordinated their financial policies. The institution, which did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, is the first of the 17 institutions named in the class-action lawsuit to settle. In addition to the payment, UChicago will share data and information on its financial aid practices with the plaintiffs and coordinate a witness interview with its previous director of college aid.

Columns and Blogs

Post – August 30, 2023
Counselors’ Corner with Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D.


7 Issues Kids Bring Up Most Often With School Counselors
Huffington Post – July 28, 2023
The professionals now known as school counselors currently find themselves on the front lines of the youth mental health crisis. Young people’s distress was exacerbated by the pandemic, but had already been on the rise for years. Whenever a student says something that makes a teacher or a fellow student wonder if they are considering harming themselves or someone else, the school counselor (or their colleague, the social worker) is called upon to do a threat or suicide assessment and determine whether the student is in immediate danger. ‘Friendship drama or scheduling may have been past perceptions of issues that students may seek out a school counselor for,’ said one counselor, while another noted that parents typically think the most common issues are surface level, either about social groups, social media, or academic concerns. The reality is that students’ top concerns run much wider and deeper.

Counselors, Can We ChatGPT?
Georgia Tech Admission Blog – August 25, 2023
As a director of undergraguate admissions, in addition to close friends who are counselors, and my two plus decades working alongside counselors, I also have two kids of my own in K-12, so I am intimately familiar with the many hats you wear, the pressures you face, the increasing needs, and complexity of issues students bring to school every day. While I cannot create more hours in your day, clone you, or hire additional counselors in your school (though you’re welcome to forward this to your principal or head of school as an endorsement), I do believe AI can be part of the solution this year. As a counselor, a big part of your job is providing students with perspective, encouragement, resources, and motivation. I know you are constantly looking for ways to help them keep an open mind, consider a variety of voices, and focus on choices and options. Over the last few months, I have come to realize that ChatGPT and other generative AI tools can be a great resource for helping students identify and expand their college search.

I’m A School Counselor. Here’s What Many Parents Get Wrong About College.
Huffington Post – August 9, 2023
As summer ends and school returns, with it can come the headaches of college application season. It can be an unimaginably stressful time for young people facing big decisions. And, unfortunately, how the adults talk to them about this decision can be making it much more difficult. School counselors know this all too well. HuffPost talked to several school counselors across the country to hear their big ‘don’ts’ when it comes to the language we could be using with students, particularly when it comes to college. Here’s what they shared about what kind of invalidating, discouraging things they would never say to young adults.


11 Warning Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
FamilyEducation – August 14, 2023
If your child is the victim of bullying, they’re sadly not alone. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at least half of all school-aged children will experience some form of bullying in their lives, with 10 percent of children being bullied regularly. Your child may not tell you if he is being bullied, which makes it even more important to know the warning signs and take action. This is especially true because bullying comes in different forms these days.

5 smart steps for parenting neurodivergent kids
Motherly – August 15, 2023
Rather than seeing challenging kids as problems to fix, what if we could uncover what makes them tick? In this excerpt from her new book, ‘Calm the Chaos’, author Dayna Abraham shares a helpful framework.


Several districts closing public schools as budgets tighten and enrollment declines
August 23, 2023—NBC News
Fewer kids are enrolling in public schools and more local neighborhood schools are shutting down, leaving hundreds of children displaced during critical classroom years. NBC’s Noah Pransky details what is fueling the closing of schools.


Admissions Process & Strategy

90% of 2023 graduates think college is really worth it. Here’s why they’re right–and politicians and pundits are wrong
Fortune – June 9, 2023
Pundits and politicians lately have raised questions and doubts about the value, effectiveness, and even the very purpose of higher education. But in an economy incessantly disrupted by change, higher education remains the best way for the rising generation to develop the knowledge, critical thinking, and adaptability that our country needs to boost living standards, sustain optimism, and secure our leading place in the world. In a national Harris Poll survey of this spring’s graduates, nine out of 10 said they’re glad they went to college. That same super-majority also agreed that a degree is the best way for someone to secure their future.

Here’s how to avoid student loan debt: Focus on career outcomes, not prestigious degrees.
USA Today – August 22, 2023
Despite what the higher education industrial complex says, where you go has a lot less to do with your future success than what you do during and after college.

‘Laboratories of success’: why HBCUs are the best models for race-blind admissions
The Guardian – US Edition – August 16, 2023
Post-affirmative action, Black schools show why cultivating diverse campuses should extend beyond the application process.

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Do This Before the Redesigned 2024 FAFSA Launches in December
NBC News – August 24, 2023
For the first time since 2016, the FAFSA will not be ready on Oct. 1 for the following academic year. If families aren’t ready when the FAFSA is released this year, they could miss out on vital aid to help them cover college expenses. Here are steps you can take now to make sure you’re ready to go when the new FAFSA is released in December.

The new FAFSA: Changes to college financial aid application are ‘tectonic,’ says expert
CNBC – August 28, 2023
To get any college aid, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. To improve access, a simplified FAFSA is rolling out in December with a new formula for calculating aid. Among other changes, eligibility is expanding but the sibling discount is going away.

With FAFSA Delayed, Advocates Want Later Financial Aid Deadlines
Forbes – August 21, 2023
The December timeline this year could make it harder for students to complete their aid applications on time, potentially losing out on thousands of dollars in grants. Rather than three or four months, students could have only six weeks to get aid applications submitted. Two of those possible six weeks fall over winter breaks when most high schools are closed, leaving students who may not have support at home without access to guidance counselors. Further, students may be confused by institutional websites which still list priority deadlines earlier than FAFSA will now open.

Career & Technical Education

High school shop class is back—and it’s showing students alternatives to ‘traditional college’
CNBC – July 26, 2023
Thirty years ago, high school shop class seemed on track for extinction. But with more job openings in the trades and more questions around the value of a four-year college degree, high schools are turning their attention back to equipping the next generation with hands-on technical skills. Despite CTE’s recent comeback, the lack of emphasis on it in high schools from the late 1980s to early 2010s has created a gap in skilled workers for industrial trades, according to some industry experts.

Gen Z values education — but doesn’t think a four-year degree is the only option
Higher Ed Dive – June 30, 2023
In 2023, 65% of surveyed students said they would need education beyond high school, compared to 59% pre-pandemic, according to a new report. But 59% said they could be successful if they don’t get a four-year degree. A majority of Gen Z high school students, 62%, worry about paying for college, the new report found. But it also showed that the time investment is a serious consideration.

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Inside The Admissions Office

Admissions Advice from a Dad
University of Georgia Undergraduate Admissions – July 19, 2023
As fall approaches and conversations about colleges enter your home, I want to share some tips from a parent’s perspective. I am a dad. I am not saying I’m a good dad, a bad dad, or whatever, but I have two kids, a wide assortment of cargo shorts and a few funny stories I have told thousands of times to back up the dad label. As such, here are a few pieces of dad advice to help both students and parents out there survive the admissions process, and to prepare you for college life and beyond.

Questions to Ask an Admission Counselor
Gonzaga University – August 28, 2023
As admission professionals, we love meeting students and getting to know them through the college search process. We know it can feel intimidating to talk to admission counselors at a college fair, at a high school visit, on a campus visit, or even virtually. You may be wondering what should I ask? While there is an endless number of questions you could ask for your specific interests and situation, here are some frequently asked questions that might help you:

Teen Health

‘All we want is revenge’: How social media fuels gun violence among teens
NPR – August 25, 2023
Juan Campos has been working to save at-risk teens from gun violence for 16 years. As a street outreach worker in Oakland, Calif., he has seen the pull and power of gangs. And he offers teens support when they’ve emerged from the juvenile justice system, advocates for them in school, and, if needed, helps them find housing, mental health services and treatment for substance abuse. But, he said, he’s never confronted a force as formidable as social media, where small boasts and disputes online can escalate into deadly violence in schoolyards and on street corners.

‘Knowledge is power’: new app helps US teens read books banned in school
The Guardian – US Edition – August 15, 2023
For the past two years, book banning has been on the rise in schools and libraries across the US, mainly due to far-right pressure. Consistently, these bans target materials written by and about people of color or LGBTQ+ individuals, and even though a 2022 poll found that 70% of parents oppose them, they are continuing at a rapid rate. Now the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is trying to fight back. It recently launched the Banned Book Program, granting free nationwide access to books restricted in schools or libraries. It functions through GPS-based geo-targeting; by typing in your zip code, you are shown the complete list of titles prohibited in your area. Once you download the Palace e-reader app, these books are available to download.


Yale University settles lawsuit alleging it pressured students with mental health issues to withdraw
WBUR Boston – August 28, 2023
Under the agreement, Yale will modify its policies regarding medical leaves of absence, including streamlining the reinstatement process for students who return to campus. The student group, which also represents alumni, had argued the process was onerous, discouraging students for decades from taking medical leave when they needed it most.

5 Things Parents Of Kids With ADHD Should Do During Back-To-School Season
Huffington Post – August 16, 2023
The classroom can be a challenging environment for a child with ADHD to navigate, and you’ll likely be anticipating the difficulties your child will face before you send them in for that first day of school. Yet with the right support, school can be a positive experience for your child. We asked experts what parents can do to help ensure a smooth transition when their child goes back to school.