How to Be Your Teen’s High School Guidance Counselor
Homeschooling parents wear many hats. Primarily, we are our students’ teacher and facilitator. We may also play roles such as cafeteria lady, school janitor, or bus driver. One position we may not think of is a guidance counselor.
It is particularly important that we understand how to fill the role of guidance counselor once our teens reach high school.
Understanding Your Role as High School Guidance Counselor
A high school guidance counselor has many jobs, but the four primary ones are guiding and helping students:
- choose their high school courses and electives
- develop strong study and time management skills
- plan for college or a career after graduation
- prepare for a smooth transition into college or the workforce
As a homeschooling parent, you’ll perform many of the duties of a guidance counselor naturally and without much extra planning or research. Others – particularly the college application process – can seem more daunting.
In the early years of high school, a guidance counselor may help teens choose a vocational or college prep track and select the courses needed for graduation or determine if AP courses are a good option.
As students reach their junior and senior years, a guidance counselor can offer more focused assistance depending on the student’s interests and aptitudes.
Helping teens choose their high school courses is one job of a guidance counselor that most homeschooling parents fill with ease. Because we know our kids so well, it’s easy to help them capitalize on their interests and talents.
Developing Study and Time Management Skills
Guidance counselors may also work with teens to help them develop strong study skills – or allow them to learn and develop the skills on their own through trial and error and natural consequences.
As homeschooling parents, we can help our teens prepare for college and the workforce by allowing them the freedom to set their own schedules with accountability guides in place and by enforcing deadlines.
Planning for College and Career
A guidance counselor also helps students prepare for life after graduation. For students who are on a college prep track, a guidance counselor assists with making sure teens know which tests they need to take and when to take them. She can offer guidance on test prep options and help a student with the college application process.
A guidance counselor can advise students and their parents on financial aid and scholarship options and guide them through the application process.
For students on a vocational track, guidance counselors can help with career planning options. They can direct students to career aptitude and personality assessments, offer guidance on military possibilities or suggest volunteer or internship opportunities.
College and career planning is an area where things can get dicey for homeschooling parents.
Preparing for Life After High School
Finally, a high school guidance counselor’s role is to help students successfully navigate high school and develop the skills needed to transition successfully to college and the workforce.
As homeschooling parents, this can involve teaching our teens the life skills they will need no matter what they do after high school, choosing the right college, or looking at alternatives to college.
Outsourcing the Role of Guidance Counselor
As I said, homeschooling parents will fill some of the guidance counselor roles naturally and without much further planning. However, sometimes all of the things we need to do to help our students prepare for college or career can be overwhelming.
That’s when you might consider outsourcing.
Earlier this summer, Matthew Bullington, President, and CEO of UniversityReady contacted me. Matthew and I worked on a project together a few years ago, and I’m so happy he thought of me when he wanted help getting the word out about UniversityReady because it’s perfect for where we are as a homeschooling family.
What Is UniversityReady?
UniversityReady is basically like having your own high school guidance counselor online. Matthew is a professional college consultant who has worked in the homeschooling community for the last decade or so.
He offers private guidance counseling services, but that can be cost-prohibitive for many single-income homeschooling families. So, Matthew culled the information that he shares with his private clients down to what can be applied to most students and created UniversityReady.
- Live, weekly, online classes which teach students how to study for exams, how to choose a college or career, how to prepare for college or trade school, and how to finance college
- Access to class recordings if you miss a live event
- Downloadable resources
- Weekly Q&A sessions
- Monthly planning meetings with checklists of what students should be doing when
There are also additional offerings such as:
- Online ACT and SAT prep courses
- Private planning session
Private Planning Session
Megan and I did the private planning session. It’s a one-hour, live, online meeting with Matthew to help with college or career planning. UniversityReady isn’t just for teens who plan to attend college.
As of now, college isn’t part of Megan’s plans, so Matthew sent her three personality assessments to take. I love stuff like that! The assessments identified her strengths and weaknesses, and she and Matthew discussed those in light of her interests. He told her that our strengths aren’t always our passions, so we need to look at both.
Matthew then gave Megan some actionable steps to help guide her in investigating possible career paths. It was really cool because one of the things Matthew suggested was talking to people who work in the areas Megan is interested in pursuing. She would love to run an animal rescue. (And, Matthew and I both advised her that a business degree would be a tremendous asset.)
We don’t know anyone who does that kind of work, but just a day or two later talked to someone who has a friend who runs a pit bull rescue! He gladly gave Megan the lady’s contact information. I don’t think that would have even been on our radar at that time if we hadn’t just had a private planning session.
UniversityReady is your homeschool high school guidance counselor, available to help teens navigate all the big decisions about college prep and career planning, test prep, financial aid, and more.
What guidance counselor roles make you feel stressed?
Is the stress of homeschooling high school getting to you? Join us for a free, live, online webinar, Monday, September 24, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. (ET)! It’s free, but you need to register to attend.
My kids have both graduated high school and one is a senior in college while the other is a junior. The most intimidating thing for me being their counselor was writing the counselor letter for the Common App. The challenge was writing something that was objective enough without sounding like “mom.”
My “funny” guidance counselor experiences for both my oldest. The oldest was really interested in chemsitry from a young age so we put lots of time, energy and money into the area. He did undergrad and post grad degrees in the area and seemed to be heading for an academic career which would have suited him. Then he decided he was done with chemistry and taught himself more programming and now works as a computer programmer. Oldest daughter didn’t know what she wanted to do, lots of things were possibilities but no real stand outs. She hated science but her dad said she needed to do one more year. I hit on psychology as a compromise – science enough for him, but non-science enough for her. Turned out that was her thing and she’s now working on her graduate degree. Looking forward to seeing how my guidance counselor efforts with my younger two pan out.