Schools look outside their walls for guidance

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As guidance counselors contend with growing caseloads, some schools have opted to share the burden.

Both John F. Kennedy High School and IN-Tech Academy, MS/HS 368, have partnered with non-profit organizations to advise students through their transitions to college or into the workforce.

Administrators at JFK and IN-Tech noted that traditional school counselor certification programs don’t include training on assisting students with the college application process. Seeking outside help in that area allows staff to focus on students’ other needs. Budget crunches have saddled many counselors with an array of duties that often include processing eighth graders’ high school applications, scheduling students’ classes, assisting students with special needs, dealing with family or life issues, tracking attendance and assisting with life skills such as time management.

“It easily becomes way too much for one counselor to devote the necessary time to. I’m not saying it’s impossible because I did it. But I know that sometimes you neglect a certain aspect,” said IN-Tech’s Assistant Principal of Guidance Alex Marrero, who said he worked 12-hour days as a counselor while trying to juggle several responsibilities. “It’s difficult when you have a student in crisis, in tears in your office and yet you have to meet with a college representative or help [another] student fill out a FAFSA form,”

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