Assisting Students During Educational Transitions

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

A primary responsibility of school counselors is assisting students through educational transitions. This lesson will discuss this aspect of school counseling and will end with a quiz to see what you have learned.

The Role of School Counselors

How did you know what to expect when you graduated from elementary school and moved on to middle school or junior high school? Who determined what classes you would be placed in or the level of math or language arts that would suit you best? You may not be aware that your school counselor played a big part in these transitions.

School counselors serve students and families in many ways. Assisting during educational transitions is one important responsibility of school counselors. There are many different facets of educational transitions and school counselors are equipped to handle them all.

Grade-Level Transitions

How old were you when you started attending school? Did you begin with pre-kindergarten? If so, you participated in what is called early childhood education. Early childhood education usually begins at age two or three and continues until about age five when most students enter kindergarten.

Kindergarten is the start of primary school . Primary school is commonly called elementary school. Most students remain in elementary school until about age eleven when they transfer to middle school. The shift from middle to high school marks the beginning of secondary school.

Secondary school continues until high school graduation at about age eighteen. Some students choose to enter the workforce at this point, while others may choose postsecondary school in the form of vocational training or college. Each of these educational transitions is guided by a school counselor.

Student Assessment

Earlier, you were asked to think back on your transition from elementary to middle school. We determined that school counselors were active players in this transition. How did they do this? Were you tested? Did you ever meet with your school counselor? Were there parent-teacher conferences to discuss your progress? These are all important ways that school counselors help to support students as they transition. These are methods of assessment .

Student assessment is essential for successful transition. This may mean testing students to see where they are in relation to other students at their grade level. These tests help counselors place students in future classes and educational programs. The assessments may also alert counselors to any problems that the student may be having so that immediate intervention and remediation can take place. Assessment can also be a useful tool for counselors when helping students prepare for college or the work force.

Providing Support Through Education

As we have been discussing, school counselors help ease the many transitions faced by students. Another important way they do this is by educating students and families about specific changes and responsibilities. For example, it is common for school counselors to organize school readiness fairs so that parents know the steps necessary for enrolling students in kindergarten. It does not end there though.

Back-to-school nights are a regular responsibility for school counselors to ensure that students are prepared for the new year. Other meetings may be held throughout the academic year to alert families to issues or to help prepare for upcoming tests or events. All of these events are designed to educate students and families in advance of the transitions.

A significant transition for students is that from high school to college or a career. Once again, school counselors are the driving force behind these changes. Career fairs may be held throughout the year at high schools to help connect students with future employers. These events may also offer tips for succeeding in the job application process, creating a resume, and interviewing.

College fairs are another common occurrence on high school campuses. School counselors connect with college admission officers to create fairs for student recruitment, application assistance, and college readiness. They may also educate students on any necessary college entrance exams. Representatives from campus organizations typically attend the fairs to give potential applicants a good sense of what life would be like at their specific school.

Financial aid is an important part of college admission and is usually very well represented at college fairs. Students and their families are educated on the necessary steps for receiving financial aid. All of these wonderful resources are made possible by the school counselors who organize and facilitate these events in an effort to support successful student transitions.

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