Phi Beta Cons

A Reader Responds on Counselors

Last week, I posted on the subject of guidance counselors, suggesting that we shouldn’t be surprised if they generally do a poor job. Here is a response from a reader who emphatically agrees:

That counseling post touched a nerve here.

My kid’s counselor, who clearly means well and wants to do good but is only slightly older than the kids she is counseling, was so unimpressive at the required parent meeting that we couldn¹t even admonish the kid for calling her “Bambi.” The nickname was el perfecto. I now have to look up Bambi’s real name whenever an official communication is required.

The counselor said she had a Master’s in counseling. We checked the course requirements out of curiosity, as we’d never before interacted with anyone who was such a blank slate. I’d be a blank slate, too, if I had to sit though that nonsense. I’d reckon that only ed-school courses could do more brain damage. (I did take one once — but only one; it was just too much risk.)

Our kid says counselors get used a lot. Girls go and cry about their problems, none of which the counselor can do anything about. Plus, they can get out of class while they do it.

I know of a counselor at another school who sided against parents when a rebellious but excellent student expressed interest in dropping out. The counselor advised kid that once he was 16, neither the school nor his parents could legally make him attend. This, according to the school, is advocating for the student.

The parents were, of course, completely overjoyed that the counselor was such a great advocate for the child. At the high-end private schools, counselors seem to be treasured for their connections as college-placement agents.

Counselor problems may not be new. A long, long time ago, a high-school guidance counselor told my husband that he would never be college material and switched him to the vocational-education high-school courses. Maybe he got the Ph.D. in physics just to prove the counselor wrong?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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