Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling Part 2
Q: I just encountered your School Counselor blog - it's so informative! My dream job is to become a school counselor. My passion in life is to help high school students achieve their career goals, including going to college. I currently work at a community college in Iowa as an admissions representative. I love my job, but I am so excited to become a school counselor. Right now, I am searching for graduate programs in School Counseling. Do you have any suggestions on things I should look for in programs? Any pointers on actually filling out the applications? Also, what is your most important advice for an aspiring school counselor?
A: I am so glad you are enjoying my blog and finding it useful! Read below for some answers to your great questions!
I wrote blog entries about graduate school that you may find helpful. My Journey to Becoming a School Counselor discusses my personal process for becoming a school counselor. Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling discusses programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). M.A., M.Ed., and or M.S.? - Which Should You Pursue? discusses the difference between master's degrees school counselors can pursue. All of the previous entries about graduate school I wrote give tips and ideas for figuring out the daunting process of finding a graduate school!
Filling out applications can be daunting as well. I would recommend carefully looking over what is required and getting as many people as you can to proofread. I would also recommend getting letters of recommendation from as many people you know. That way, you can pick recommendation letters that fit best with each graduate school.
Location, Location, Location
I would also recommend finding a graduate school near where you want to work in the future. Because of my master's program connections, I was able to get a job as a long term substitute school counselor before I even graduated. I was emergency certified and hired by a school district for my field II experience.
In my blog entry: My Journey to Becoming a School Counselor, I mention how I tried to find a full time position in another part of the state after my long term substitute position was over. I had tons of interviews in another part of the state and held two long term substitute positions. I moved back to the other side of the state when I received an offer for a full time position at the district where I was first hired! The proximity of my graduate school and my connections definitely played a role in finding a position and getting hired. I love my current position, especially because I have an amazing school counselor with whom I share the building!
In response to your question, "What is your most important advice for an aspiring school counselor?" I wrote a separate blog entry about networking and making connections. You have connections all around you right now in your undergraduate program who can help you get into graduate school. Working with your connections to get letters of recommendations or to make phone calls to potential graduate schools can make a huge difference!
I hope this helps you begin the process of navigating graduate school! Please feel free to email me with additional or follow up questions!
What did you look for in a graduate school program for school counseling? What helped you decide where to go? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!
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.