I got my first interview! How should I prepare?
You were called for an interview, which is awesome, but now you probably are worried about what you will be asked and wondering how to ensure that you end up with that coveted school counseling position. A while back, I had a linky party about this topic, where I posted my own interview tips and other school counselors did the same. I found their responses very helpful and I know you will as well.
Check out all of the ideas here.
I finally have a full-time school counseling position - now what?
I remember that feeling - yep, the overwhelmingly intimidating one that follows the euphoria of landing the job. You spend the entire interview process convincing everyone that you would be their perfect school counselor and now they're actually letting you loose in their school, working with their students? My first day was definitely sink or swim and I remember wondering how I could ever think I was adequately prepared for the flood of responsibilities.
If you find yourself in the same boat, trust me that you will make it through. I know it's hard and definitely a bit terrifying, but you will grow to have a sense of confidence, poise, and strength that only diving in headfirst can give you.
Here are some posts I've written about how to make it as a new school counselor.
Tips for New School Counselors
Sink or Swim
Back to School - Back to Connecting
I also have a number of video podcasts that might help as well.
A Day in the Life of a School Counselor
Hollywood and Beyond
What does a typical school day look like?
School counseling is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every building is different and requires a program that can address those specific needs. However, there are some things that are fairly similar, such as the importance of including direct school counseling services, such as individual, small group, classroom-based, and school-wide programs.
For me, every week looks a little different. I have a small school with approximately 360 students (2 classrooms per grade level, K-6). My typical goal is to get in around 4-5 classrooms a week to teach classroom-based counseling lessons. On average, I facilitate 2 small groups per day and 5-7 individual counseling sessions per day. I organize or help organize about 1 major school-wide program each quarter. However, these numbers are never set in stone. I may have a day where I'm doing more administrative tasks because that's what needs to get done. I may have a day when I'm snatching up any scrap of time I can find in the day to see students on my list because THAT's what needs to get done. I always have an outline of what I'd like to accomplish for the week, month, and year, but I allow myself flexibility so that the focus is not on what I want, but what my students NEED.
A Day in the Life of a School Counselor
Small Groups, Big Impact
How to Run a School-Wide Program
How can I become a school counselor?
One of the best places to go for information about the school counseling profession is the American School Counselor Association website.
In order to become a licensed school counselor, you must earn your Master's degree in school counseling (which includes both coursework and an internship) and complete any state licensing exams. As for your Bachelor's degree, there are many routes you could take. Many school counselors have a psychology or human development and family studies background, while others decide teaching is the best fit. In the end, you need to decide what you love and what will best prepare you for not only admission into graduate school, but also for the school counseling field. I chose Early Childhood Education, which gave me the added benefit of learning how to create lessons plans, feeling comfortable in front of a variety of age groups, and keeping me up-to-date with the latest trends in education. However, I say this with caution. No one should major in education if they truly are not passionate about teaching. The stakes are high in education and children, staff, schools, and communities need educational leaders who are driven to provide the best possible learning environment.
So, when you know you want to pursue graduate school and the school counseling profession, I suggest looking for CACREP accredited institutions. I applied to 5 schools and made my final decision based on the financial aid I was able to receive. Ohio happens to have more opportunities for graduate assistantships than most states, so even though I desperately wanted to confirm my enrollment at Penn State (my dream school), I went with Ohio University. I have no regrets. Ohio University was a great program and I was able to get my degree and remain debt-free. In fact, my assistantships helped pay for my living expenses. If I would have gone with another institution, I may have ended up $50,000 in debt just for my schooling.
If you still have questions, contact some universities. You may be able to speak with faculty members or current students about what the program is like. You can also contact school counselors in your area to hear about their experiences. The more information you have, the more prepared and confident you will feel when it's time to make decisions about your future.