Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling
A: The first thing I would recommend is checking out CACREP's website. CACREP Stands for Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. There are many reasons to choose a CACREP accredited program, but the main reason I recommend choosing a CACREP accredited program is because CACREP programs must meet standards set by the profession. When applying for state licenses for school counseling many states require you to meet additional criteria if your program was not CACREP accredited. If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (this is a whole other topic for another day ;) ) a CACREP accredited program is the way to go. If your program is not CACREP accredited you will have to meet additional requirements just like your state license for school counseling. There is a searchable directory on CACREP's website where you can find schools that are CACREP Accredited by state and type of program.
As far as the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is concerned, I would recommend checking first to see if the schools you want to apply for require them. I took the GRE (it was brutal), but the school I ended up going to did not require them. You may find a program that you love that doesn't require it... so check it out first! If you do end up taking the GRE, I recommend visiting the ETS site for study suggestions.
You are definitely on the right track with calling schools and inquiring about their programs. I would also recommend checking out schools websites and looking at faculty profiles. It is great if you can find a school where professors have research interests or theoretical orientations that interest you. For example, if you are aspiring to be an Adlerian oriented school counselor, it would benefit you to find a school where professors either conduct research about Adlerian counseling methods or use an Adlerian orientation in their own counseling.
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Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.