The path to being a school counselor can never be easy. As a counselor you are responsible for assisting students of all backgrounds, life situations, and this is no doubt challenging beyond imagination. The obstacles today’s students face are incomparable to any other generation in human history. What convinced me personally to take on the challenge and privilege of counseling this generation of youth was simple. I did not have enough role models in my school-age years. I know first hand what it can be like to lack guidance as a child. Being an immigrant myself and having to adjust to a new life in the United States came with a lot of struggle and not enough direction from my community. I have the right life experiences to guide those who can so easily stray during their formative years. I also have the eagerness to do so. Giving back to my community and instilling hope in today’s youth is a lifestyle I strive for. Making this my life’s work in the form of a substantial career would be a dream realized. This is beyond my greatest imagination of what my life could be like. Read on to find out what strengths are needed to make a successful school counselor and find out if its the right path for you.
A Connection to Today’s Youth
I consider my immigrant upbringing and childhood experiences to be a strength I can bring with me into the school counseling field and capitalize on it. Being both a foreigner and a New Yorker at the same time is not a contradiction. Even after coming to New York City as a young child and quickly becoming completely Americanized, I still had to struggle with my family’s insistence on keeping cultural roots intact. I had to reconcile these two very different cultures in order to please my family and embrace the fully American girl I truly felt myself to be. Managing this difficult reality of my life is one of my greatest strengths because it is a struggle I have overcome. I know that my story is one among many but I also know that I would always enjoy sharing my insight anywhere I go. I know it is a strong point of connection between myself and the students I will one day serve.
Strong Communication Capabilities
Another strength I hold that can serve this career type well is my communication skills. I have always been an outspoken person, particularly when I know a person is being wronged. I can never ignore a situation I find myself in where a person is being treated unfairly, no matter how minor. I am skilled in articulating my thoughts both in person and on paper. I’ve always loved to write. Writing is one of the ways I love to express myself because I can do it very thoroughly and reach many people. Speaking in person is something I am comfortable and happy doing whenever necessary.
A Compassionate Nature
Another quality that can make a counselor is compassion for others. In other words, be an empathetic person. Feel what others feel very directly. When a person is expressing emotion, live in that moment with him or her. Attempt to connect and empathize with others very seamlessly. Developing a connection always involves empathy. I love to make connections with people as we are all very connected anyway. Humanity is one body in reality. The more we connect the more genuine life becomes.
Avoid Doing This!
As much as I realize the strengths I also realize the challenges one can face on the path of school counseling. No career is without its challenges. You can not become too emotional. I am a sensitive person and I feel everything just a little too deep. Sensitivity and emotion can sometimes be debilitating as I tend to give a task everything I have and become very emotionally invested in it. I also tend to have an extreme personality where things have to be perfect in order for me to be fully proud of them. I have been working on that lately because I know that perfection does not exist and that I should not overextert myself when it comes to work or studies, the same goes for anything else in life.
If you have a nature that is anything similar to mine you may find that the path of a school counselor is the right one for you. Children are in need of all the resources they can get their hands on. Having a loving, dedicated adult is a vital component of a healthy childhood. With all the broken homes out there many children are not left with a positive role model to look up to. Kids need inspiration early on in life. Be that light for them among the darkness they may be surrounded by. The more well functioning adults give back to the youth, the more society can thrive.
What you need:
•4 year degree in school counseling
Check your state or region’s specific requirements on being a licensed school counselor. This can vary drastically for state to state. The minimum requirement would be a 4 year bachelors degree, preferably in the area of school counseling. Once you have found that, don’t wait. Apply and start your studies in the field! Be proactive about the journey.
•A high level code of ethics
Working with children requires a person of great moral character. Our kids need to see morality and good nature demonstrated for them at a young age. They will surely internalize these traits.
•Strong verbal and written skills
You should have an ability to speak, read and write on a sophisticated level. This is obviously an educational position and these skills are of high necessity. If you are lacking in this area but still wish to be in the school counseling field then work on yourself little by little and you’ll get there. Start by reading more books and expanding your vocabulary bank. This will improve your literary skills immensely. You can also hire a literacy coach to help you advance seamlessly through the guidance of an experienced professional.
Message in the comments if you wish to discuss the field of school counseling more or if you have any questions about this growing career.