Counselors are commonly present in secondary schools, which include middle schools and high schools. Secondary school counselors perform many of the same functions as elementary school counselors, but they may work with older students who are facing different developmental and academic challenges.
In addition to providing academic and emotional support, secondary school counselors may also assist students with college and career planning, course selection, and graduation requirements.
They may also help students navigate issues related to peer pressure, social relationships, sexuality, mental health, and substance abuse. Overall, secondary school counselors play an important role in supporting students during the critical period of adolescence and preparing them for success in higher education and beyond.
Common Issues Handled by Secondary School Counselors
Here are 20 common cases that secondary school counselors may handle:
1. Academic guidance
Academic guidance is the primary assignment of counselors at whichever level of education. Counselors may help students with course selection, academic planning, and tutoring.
As a secondary school counselor, you will meet students who need help in developing effective study habits, maintaining motivation, mastering retention, and how to approach exam questions.
2. College and career planning
The second common issue counselors encounter in secondary schools is career planning and how to enter the university. Counselors may help students explore career options, plan for post-secondary education, and develop job search skills.
This must have started in elementary school but is intensified and most needed at this stage.
3. Course selection
Course selection is a mixture of educational and vocational guidance. Counselors may advise students on selecting courses that align with their interests and goals.
Secondary school counselors conduct appraisals on students to understand their personality and interests and choose a suitable career path as a result (which is the step above).
But as a continuation, they guide students in choosing the right subjects (electives, especially) that are both needed for those career paths and fitting to their person.
4. Graduation requirements
As students begin to round up their secondary education, there are several activities that should be done to aid their smooth graduation from school. Secondary school counselors may help students meet graduation requirements and develop a plan for post-secondary education.
This transcends just meeting the academic requirements of the school. The guidance counselor also guides the students in their clearance with the non-academic staff of the school.
This falls under information service, one of the 7 core guidance services in schools.
5. Mental health support
We have seen various forms of guidance that are done in secondary schools, now we focus on various counseling services secondary school counselors offer. Counselors may provide support to students experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
Students encounter several stressors both at school and at home. The counselor will help them with coping strategies to maintain their mental well-being amidst these.
6. Substance abuse prevention
Students in secondary school are mostly adolescents and adolescence is psychologically known as the period of stress and stress. So it is not strange to see students experimenting.
Counselors in secondary schools may educate students about the risks of substance abuse and provide support to students who may be at risk. They also help those who are engaged or addicted to get out of it.
7. Relationship issues
Students also begin to explore their emotions and physical changes during adolescence and relationship issues are sure to rise in secondary schools. Counselors may assist students with problems related to peer relationships, romantic relationships, or family conflicts.
Rather than discriminate and talk down on them, secondary school counselors should open their arms to the students and guide them on how to navigate this stage safely.
If counselors are hostile to romantic relationships especially, like many parents are, students will still engage in them secretly. So it’s better to get the students talking to you so you can influence them rightly.
8. Sexual health
Similar to handling romantic relationships, counselors may provide education on sexual health and help students navigate issues related to sexuality and relationships.
Sex education needs to be tailored to each class and the age grade of students. Hiding the truth from adolescents is not protecting them because they will get unguided information online.
9. Bullying and harassment prevention
Bullying and harassment are also other cases that are very common in secondary schools. Counselors may work with students, teachers, and parents to prevent bullying and harassment in school.
Laws should be set, sanctions should be given, and advocacies should be done.
10. Conflict resolution
Counselors may help students learn how to resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully. Unresolved conflicts usually are the beginning of more serious issues in the school like bullying and even rape.
The responsibility of the counselor in this way is therefore very important. It can be the differentiating factor between an emotionally supportive school environment and a destructive one.
Other cases handled by counselors in secondary schools include
11. Goal setting
Counselors may help students set and achieve academic, personal, and career goals.
12. Test anxiety
Counselors may provide strategies to help students cope with test anxiety and perform their best on exams.
13. Peer pressure
Counselors may help students learn how to resist negative peer pressure and make healthy choices.
14. Cultural awareness
Counselors may provide support to students from diverse backgrounds and help promote cultural awareness and acceptance.
15. Mental health awareness
Counselors may work to increase awareness of mental health issues among students, teachers, and parents.
16. Career counseling
Counselors may guide students on career options, job search skills, and workplace etiquette.
17. Transition to college
Counselors may assist students in the college application process, including test preparation, essay writing, and financial aid.
18. Leadership development
Counselors may provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and engage in service projects.
19. Time management
Counselors may help students develop time management skills and strategies to balance schoolwork and other activities.
20. Post-secondary education planning
Counselors may help students explore college and vocational programs, apply for financial aid, and develop life skills necessary for independent living.
We have seen 20 of the common problems handled by secondary school counselors. While some of these problems will be more prevalent in some schools, every school will have some degree of them.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.