The Counseling Geek 21st Century School Counselor Blog Thu, 24 Dec 2020 22:30:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 66615267 10 Back to School Essentials for School Counselors in 2020 Fri, 05 Jun 2020 20:59:39 +0000

10 Back To School Essentials for School Counselors

10 Hot Summer Buys To Get Ready For The Fall

10 Must Have Office and Wardrobe Additions for Back To School

With summer break looming or already here for many school counselors around the US – the fall still leaves a lot of questions in terms of what school will look like with the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigation measures. I was poking around Etsy the other day and found some great items that I think make a super BTS roundup. Check out the items below that make up the 10 Must Have Back To School Essentials for School Counselors to get your office and wardrobe ready for a return to our office or to our virtual space this fall.

10 Back To School Essentials for School counselors

1. This School Counselor Alphabet poster is awesome!

It gets the gist of what a school counselor does on a daily basis. I particularly like the multitasking Ninja.

Available from PencilMePretty on Etsy.

2. No matter where we are in the fall – facemasks are a likely scenario.

This Postivie Facemask and Neck Gaiter is multiuse, washable and shares positive affirmations with all you meet. If we are going to wear PPE – may as well make it fashionable. Great for school counselors, teachers, administrators, special educators, and school psychs!

Available from The School Counselor Shop on Etsy.

3. Coffee will be essential – drink it from this awesome mug

I run on coffee no matter if I am at home or in the office. This also has a lid because we all know that counselor coffee is always getting cold!

Available from LoveInTheCityShop on Etsy.

School Counselor Alphabet Print - counseling gift ABC office wall decor
Positive Face Covering | School Counselors | Teachers | Psychologists | Face Mask | Paraeducators Neck Gaiter
Counselor mug, social worker mug, custom counselor, social work mug, counselor cup, school counselor gift, school counselor mug

4. Speaking of coffee – this vynl sticker is for the coffee loving school counsleor

A perfect acutremont to your coffee mug is this die cut vynl sticker for all us coffee lovers! School counselors – share your love for caffiene and counseling on windows, laptops, binders and more.

Available from The School Counselor Shop on Etsy.

5. A cute door sign for your office

We all need a door sign right?! This is eye catching, trendy and uses the correct title (no G-word here).

Available from kasefazem on Etsy.

6. I am all about good choices – this minimal but trendy shirt covers all the bases.

One of my favorite sayings is “Let’s make better choices tomorrow” – this shirt is perfect for all school counselors, teachers and principals.

Available from MissyLuLus on Etsy.

School Counselor | School Counseling | Guidance Counselor | Coffee into Counseling - Die Cut Bubble-free school counseling stickers
personalized school counselor classroom door sign - teal turquise chevron - P2511 Graduation Gift
Let's Make Good Choices Shirt, Teacher Shirt, Teacher Tee, Shirts For Teachers, Motivational Teacher Shirt, School Counselor Tee, Teacher

7. We are a problem solving people

School counselors think outside the box and solve problems daily for students and families.

Available from TheDizzyBeeBoutique on Etsy.

8. Not all schools require ID badges, but they may with proper face coverings.

This is a nice touch to your shirt, blouse, or blazer to hold your school ID. We’re all Friends here.

Available from ThatbadgeBoutique on Etsy.

9. The 3 domains of school counseling for your chic new office décor.

This could be a little more elementary/middle school counselor in terms of taste, but tons of people love this door, wall or window hanger. It’s also customizable (like if you want College/Career or School Counselor).

Available from LittleSilverArt on Etsy.

School Counselor Shirt | Shirt for Counselors | School Counselor Gift | First Day of School Shirt| First Day Teacher Gift | School Administ
Counselor - badge reel - lanyard - stethoscope ID tag - retractable badge reel - badge clip
School Counselor/Teacher classroom door hanger

10. Day in and day out – we’re all about that School Counselor Life!

We love our jobs and this sticker is a great addon for your work or home laptop. You can also apply it to windows, binders, lunch boxes, etc.

Available from The School Counselor Shop on Etsy.

School Counselor | Counselor Sticker | Laptop Sticker| School Counselor Life Bubble-free stickers
10 Back To School Essentials for School counselors
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15 Minute Tech Tools for School Counselors: The Amazing 6 Part Video Miniseries Thu, 30 Apr 2020 18:17:06 +0000

15 Minute Tech Tools for school counselors

The Amazing 6 Part Video Tutorial Miniseries

Great for COVID-19 Lockdown/Quarentine – but also great for everyday use as a school counselor.

I want to share the complete box set of the FREE 15 Minute Tech Tools, six part video tutorial miniseries for school counselors, teachers and other educators. I know that most of us are usually busy, be it with work or life. I noticed a plethora (50 cent word right there) of professional development resource available (check out CASC/WSCA’s resource page if you haven’t yet:, but many of them were at least an hour long, if not more. Sometimes that is not the kind of time I have to devote to learning.


So I decided to go live and keep it under 15 minutes.


15 minutes seemed like a reasonable amount of time to devote to learning something new. I also did it live to show you that it really did only take 15 minutes (no post-production magic here and some ums included to keep it spicy).

If you also keep scrolling – I have linked to some additional blog posts related to the content I cover in the videos. If you loved the videos below – feel free to leave a “tip” in the form of a donation to the School Counselor Community Scholarship program that helps send school counselors to the annual ASCA National Conference each year.

So without further ado – I present the 6 part series for your viewing pleasure.

Ep 1: My distance set up and better Google Forms for School Counselors

Ep 2: Keeping Counseling Interesting with Canva

Ep 3: Saving Time with Screencasting

Ep 4: Easy Website Creation with Weebly

Ep 5: Managing Your Appointments Digitally

Ep 6: Gmail Efficiency Hacks – Tricks for your Inbox

I’ve got blog posts too!

If you enjoyed the videos – several also have blog posts that are a great accompanyment to the video tutorial if you wish to check out the write up. Just click the button below to go to the approparite post.

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High School Tips: Running Your First Course Fair Thu, 27 Feb 2020 04:24:56 +0000

Running Your First Course Fair

Emulating Effective Practices 

Something I have always been boggled by is how we, educators, often don’t utilize the tools, techniques and processes that many other industries have mastered and dump tons of money into because they have realized their value. I have talked about it with the idea of branding and marketing many times, in fact. However, another thing that I think we can tap into comes from the University world and the HR domain – the idea of information fairs. If you work or have worked in admissions or as a high school counselor – there is a high probability that you have attended, tabled at or put on a college fair. Colleges are also hosts of massive recruiting and job fairs throughout the year. At NTHS and in TTUSD – we put on several fair events each year having to do with job options for high school students and CTE/STEAM programs. So, many of us are aware of an information fair – but we often don’t use them.


We tried something new this year 

I like to fancy myself a fan of efficiency, and I am constantly working on tweaking our processes at North Tahoe High School. One of my less favorite roles at work has to do with scheduling (yes…other duties as assigned…working on it). Each year I reflect on our process, and we tweak things to make it easier for us, easier for students, more clear and helping align the correct students with the correct course plans. We’ve got a lot of great things going, but one of the things we haven’t been able to master is our students getting a clear idea of what the various courses are all about and how much time they actually need to allocate to each of them.

This causes many, many schedule changes (uggghhh…) in the late spring and start of school because kids signed up for classes, and they were too hard (or simply gave too much work), they didn’t really know what it meant, or some other reason. It takes a ton of time, ends up causing issues with class sizes and more. So I brainstormed how to help solve this problem and I thought back to our information fairs. I decided I wanted to give what I dubbed The Course Fair a go (I will go through the specifics below). I ran the idea by my co-counselor and admin team and our teacher leaders – and they were on board with a pilot fair to see how it went. This was mid-December. Our scheduling requests take place in February. So I had about 3.5 weeks to figure it out and make it happen…in a school counselor’s ample free time. A bit daunting but I got to work.

A bit of context

I am always a bit of a skeptic when reading articles and blogs and wonder if that really can be done at our school. So I want to give you a quick look at North Tahoe High School so you can see how it worked for us. You would likely need to make adjustments based on size, population, climate, etc. Perhaps a whole school thing isn’t feasible – maybe try one of your key grade levels that you find having the hardest time scheduling?


North Tahoe is about 430 students in grades 9-12 — about 100 per grade level. So we are small. We also have a 2x weekly, 30-minute advisory period that I often push into with core curriculum lessons and content. Our admin team and teaching staff are usually up for most anything I want to try (I have to persuade or bribe from time to time – but they are usually onboard with trying new things). I wanted you to have that tidbit to help you understand the description of the event itself below and be able to scale it for your school if you wished.


The Prep Work

Like I mentioned – I had about 3.5 weeks to prepare from brainchild to event happening (in the midst of finals, new term, holiday craziness, etc.). I wanted to model the event like a college fair, but instead of students meandering around and talking to college reps – they get to spend some time learning about their future courses, asking potential teacher questions about the classes, understanding more about the expectations, and making an initial connection with that adult they may spend the next year with.

After I was able to find a day towards the end of January that would work for our school and got the okay to extend our advisory period by 15 minutes (30 minutes is too short) – I hopped on Google Drawings via Drive and mapped out our gym with the layout of tables and teachers. Google Drawings is a great blank canvas tool you can use for lots of things. It was easy to create a map on it for this purpose.

High School Tips: Running Your First Course Fair 1 on The Counseling Geek

Creating Organizational Media

After that plan – I got to work on my go-to digital design too, Canva, and designed large signs for each of our teachers. We have a large plotter that can print poster sized documents and these wayfinding posters helped students know who each teacher was. I organized the area as best I could by subject matter to help students find their appropriate teachers too.

One of the additional goals I had for the event came not only from my experiences, but also feedback from different student groups and parents. I wanted students to leave with a better idea of the time committment and their overall load they are taking on. I will cover more of this a little later, but a good number of our students (probably like many of yours) over schedule themselves with academics, sports, work, family commitments, etc. and leave little to no time for other, unexpected things that come up. Or important things like sleep or *GASP* fun.


The Teacher Prep 

One of the big things I aimed for to help this be successful is to minimize the teacher prep work to all but zero. Apart from asking them for the average time outside of class students need to work in each of their courses – teachers could show up with no prep and have conversations with students. I did offer and suggest that anyone that wanted to prep, bring samples or demos or otherwise market their program was welcome and encouraged to, but it was not required. Being our first go – a few teachers did bring some items to show off their course, but most did not. And that was fine. The biggest thing was the buy in from them and the students.

Prepping the Kids

Once I was moving in the right direction – I also got myself (and my co-counselor who works with our 9th graders) scheduled into advisory periods earlier in January. We spent the time talking very briefly about course requests, but the majority of the time was spent on a lesson on Finding Balance where we explored the ideas of eustress and distress, what their loads and limits are, and how to live life with margins. To make sense of this blog post, a book, or just about anything – having empty white space is essential. Otherwise it is a jumbled mess. So we discussed how they ensure margins exsist in their lives to account for those unexpected projects, bad days, getting sick, etc. that can fill all their available time.

This all related to our course fair because a part of the fair that they were tasked with was creating a timeline of a typical week in their life and where their time goes. I asked each teacher to provide me with the average weekly outside of school workload for each course they teach and added that to the posters with the teachers courses and name. The student were asked to go to each class they were considering and tally up their time on the sheet you can see below. I also put a sample of the teacher sign below.

I wanted to avoid having kids stand around talking to their friends and not engaging with the teachers. So I took a trick from my running CASC conferences and created a bingo card. You can see that below too – very simple – but they were able to have teachers sign off once they had asked a good question or had a conversation and once filled up – could enter a drawing for some NTHS swag. We got many, many back.


The Day Of 

The day of the course fair has arrived. In our school – that means it happened from 10:15 to 11:00 during our school day. I had tables set up the night before and the posters and handouts printed the week prior to be read/hand out to kids. That morning – I hung the teacher signs and made some slight adjustments to the room layout, but generally the set up on the day of was minimal.


At 10:15, our classes started to roll in. Because students were reporting to their advisory classes (attendance still had to get taken), the teachers were also arriving with them. Ideally – they would have been there already, but after about 5 minutes of everyone arriving – people were where they needed to be. At the beginning of the event – students were not 100% confident in what they were doing. We had never done something like this. So myself and a few other staff walked around and engaged students looking lost or unengaged. We suggested teachers to go speak with and guided them into conversations with teachers they may not have considered. As I walked around – I also got approached my numerous students who had questions they developed after talking to teachers. From looking at the overall load of the courses to which math class made sense next – it sparked conversation that wasn’t typically there before. Below are some photos I took during the event to see a little bit in action. I wish I had taken more, but I had a hard time because of the questions and guiding taking place.

The Feedback 

After the event – the feedback from both students and teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers felt that they had a chance to share the key pieces of their classes with prospective students, the students got a better idea of their courses they are interested in and as we are now into the scheduling process – I am seeing a large decrease in inappropriate loads and course requests (i.e. I got a D in chem but I am going to take AP chem next year).

Teachers said that they liked getting info about AP courses out to kids before they are making scheduling choices, that they hoped we do it again, and students came back with an idea already what they would like to take and were excited about the classes. Our academic foundations (students who are most at promise but not quite there yet) gave it a thumbs up.

Some of the constructive thoughts we had about growing the event in the future include that both students and teachers actually wanted more time, they wanted some prep time in our advisory classes to practice with our younger students, and creating little info sheets about each class with tidbits of readable info should the teacher be having a conversation already.

Overall – I felt that this event went about as well as it could have gone for our first try. Our students were engaged – from our highest achievers to some of our most in need of support – and they left with a better idea of their goals and next steps as we started to enter our course request process for the upcoming school year.



Do you do an event like our course fair? Many schools may do arena scheduling – which this is very loosely connected to. How have you done your course fair? What should I add that you found helpful? Leave a comment below or reach out on social media. I would love to hear from you.

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What’s in a name? Why the title of school counselor matters. Fri, 24 May 2019 22:00:18 +0000

What's in a name?

Why being called a school counselor matters.

School Counselor vs. Guidance Counselor: I didn’t always get it.

I am still a baby when it comes to time served as a school counselor – starting in the profession in 2012. When I was going through graduate school and even in the first year or two of work – I felt it was silly to be so concerned about what we were called as a professional title. School counselor…guidance counselor (henceforth “the G-word”) – it was all semantics in my mind. How much really could our title impact the work that we do daily with students? Why do we spend so much time and energy worrying about it? It’s just a name – can’t we get over it?

I will chalk it up to naivety and being overwhelmed with starting my role as a school counselor. I will also say that working in California – most people refer to us by our proper title of school counselor anyway. I think the G-word tends to be more prevalent back east and in the mid-west or among some of the older generations (though it does exist out here in the wild west), so it’s not as big of a problem in my everyday world. I never got the heated debates on social media about it. However, I have grown and learned since my freshman year of school counseling that semantics, words, and titles DO matter and matter in quite a big way. Hopefully, you hang with me as I unpack some of the facts and my opinions about our titles (I’ll be sure to cite the hard facts and call out my opinions).


1. Using the G word is like using VHS to describe the latest and greatest in video recording technology.

It’s simply outdated and inaccurate. The most common analogy you will hear in this conversation is the Stewardess to Flight Attendant title change. In that analogy – a stewardess (with a heavy female emphasis in the title itself right off the bat) on a plane, train or ship’s main function was passenger comfort. Taking coats and bags, helping them to their seat, serving food and drink, being and the service of the passenger. While those still are some of the things that a modern day flight attendant does in their position – they also have many other duties like ensuring passenger safety, supporting the flight crew, solving conflicts, preventatively solving problems before they may arise, and more.

In a similar fashion – the role of the school counselor and it’s development over time is (pretty) well documented. Starting about one hundred years ago – the role began as a focus on vocational guidance and was filled by those who felt they had a calling and desire to help, but often little to no formal training or education in relation to the role. They were teachers and educators. Another big time frame in the profession’s past was in the 50’s and 60’s after the Russians launched the first satellite Sputnik when there was a big push to improve our position on the innovation map. Heading into the 1990’s was when our profession really started to make some concerted efforts to change our roles and perceptions.

Below are several excellent resources and citations (especially the first two) talking about the history and development of school counseling:

Norm Gysbers: The History of School Counseling (Video webinar) via ASCA On Air

The Father of School Counseling (podcast) via I Hear You Say

School Counseling: A Brief Historical Overview by Dr. Christine Schimmel via West Virginia DOE

The Role of the School Counselor by ASCA


2. Using the G word changes the perception of our roles and our competence.

Think about your last trip to the supermarket. If you have a local Trader Joe’s (or can think of a time you may have been to one) – head to the wine aisle next time you are in (I know – it’s a heavy hitter for school counselors). During college and graduate school after I was 21 – I took a pretty awesome “job” with a company that does secret shopping. A few times a month – I would get a job to head to a local TJ’s and buy some booze (usually wine) and not offer my ID at check out. I was to report back whether or not I was prompted for my ID. I got about $12 + reimbursement for my purchase so we had a well-stocked wine cabinet and made a few extra bucks. A note that this wasn’t a law enforcement related activity – but rather TJ’s hired the company to run these checks and coached the employees who were not following their legal requirements for ID’ing customers.

That set up leads us to the point of the paragraph – I learned quickly that TJ’s carries store labeled wine that is the exact same as brand name winery produced labels selling for 3x-5x the cost. I am not talking close imitation – but literally the same. It’s a great example of how labels keep their prices high – by limiting production. Scarcity makes us think it is better and we will pay more for it. The winery will then sell the excess off as another label or to another company to bottle it under their label (as TJ’s does).

You may say that you actually LIKE the cheaper wine (if you’ve ever been to a blind wine tasting – you know how that usually goes), but from a marketing and branding perspective – if there are a few TJ’s selling a $50 label for $15 – it diminishes not only the demand, but makes you question why we are paying $50 at other stores. When we go by, call or are indifferent to the use of the G-word – we are selling ourselves under a cheaper label. We place a lower price on our profession that leads others to believe we are not of quality, value or worth sitting at the table. We may be the same – no matter what we are called – but we are not the same in the eyes of many.

Recent (as in a about a week ago as of this writing) research by Zyromski, Hudson, Baker, and Haag Granello published in ASCA the Professional School Counseling journal (Vol. 22, Issue 1) highlights the impact of using the term “guidance counselor” over school counselor. In the research brief, they found that those that used the G-word “…were statistically significantly less likely to believe school counselors were able to perform the 25 tasks on the survey” which were from the ASCA Professional Standards and Competencies Draft.

Please read the brief (publicly available) and full text (available to ASCA members) to grasp the full impact of their findings. They call it a vital implication for practice that school counselors adopt the title instead of the G word. Additional research into our field as a whole, but into this area, in particular, is needed, but this provides some powerful evidence.

ASCA Research Report: Guidance Counselors or School Counselors: How the Name of the Profession Influences Perceptions of Competence

Professional School Counseling Journal


3. Your lack of concern affects my advocacy efforts and my professional perception.

If you head over to Facebook and check out ASCA’s page and look back to May 23rd, 2019 – they posted a link to the above article with a nice infographic. Now do something that most people tell you to avoid – check out the comments. Any time this topic comes up (I suppose really like most topics these days) – there are people on both polar ends of the spectrum. But I am almost always amazed at the number of responses that arise that are so anti-school counselor by name, whether outright or just in the fact that they are indifferent and feel it’s not worth the effort (re-read the above if you are in that camp).

This section is mostly my opinion, without lots of corroborating data, but I feel it would generally ring true. When you do not care about our title or professional identity – you, directly and indirectly, impact my ability to advocate for the profession and my professional perception. This is true if you work in my building or work across the country from me. Your disinterest or non-concern over our title makes it much more difficult for those trying to affect change in their region or district because those against change use you as evidence it doesn’t matter. “Such and such school district or their G words are fine with that title – why is it such a big deal” and comments/push back on why it isn’t a big deal from those who work in the profession are damning things when trying to get change to occur.

We cannot even seem to agree on it internally - why should Joe Public or Steve Superintendent think it was a big deal?
Click To Tweet

Secondly – it affects others in our profession for whom it does matter. When our roles are vague, antiquated or mislabeled in our job descriptions, districts, schools, DOEs and beyond – it has farther reaches than just your local community. It heads into mainstream media (Counselor Mackey anyone?), parent and student perceptions, legislation, laws, education code, and onto ballots. Changing the perception of our profession means changing how our profession is used. If I went and talked to most of the folks on the ASCA post who are commenting why it isn’t important – I would bet that they would also have plenty of beefs with their roles in their schools (non-counseling duties, student-to-counselor ratios, etc.).

We have to stop thinking just about our short game in this profession. While yes – education does seem to find it’s new shiny object every 3-4 years to focus on – this perception piece is all about our long game. Will changing your title from the G word to school counselor magically reduce your ratios? Very likely not. But by changing your title – you can now use the many pieces of evidence-based research that show the valuable impact of school counselors (not G words), what appropriate duties are for school counselors and use that new piece of ammunition in your advocacy efforts.


So what?

Do I get angry or offended when someone uses the G word in reference to me? Almost never. It does hit me deeper when a school counseling colleague uses it – but I get over it. Do I think that everything will be better in our worlds if all of a sudden every school counselor had an accurate title? Nope.

But what I do hope is that we are not the very people keeping our identities stuck in the mid-1900’s. I know my work is not done in black and white nor do I want my professional identity to be stuck in the 8-track era. It’s high time that we take a fresh look at our profession, get involved in making a positive change outside of just our office or building (in an active or more distant fashion) and bring our identity out of the ancient days.

School counselors around the country are depending on you to do your little bit in advocating for our profession as a whole.

What's in a name? Why the title of school counselor matters. 11 on The Counseling Geek


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Dear David: An Open Letter to The Collegeboard Fri, 03 May 2019 00:58:15 +0000

Dear David:

An Open Letter to The College Board

Dear David: It’s Time You Listened

Mr. Coleman et al – as I pen this letter of frustration, it is the week before the annual two weeks of AP Exams. So yes – my frustrations are high already. But this has been long coming. The amount of time that I am required to spend as a school counselor is absurd to fulfill the needs and expectations of your massive organization. I, personally and professionally, am over it. I would like to point out several things and demand that several key things start to change immediately.


1. College Board is too big.

Your organization has turned into a monstrosity that has zero connection to what it is like to work within the education sector today. Decisions are made and policies set in place that make it crystal clear that the decision making bodies have spent little to no time actually working within a school. When I have to do anything related to College Board, AP, SAT, PSAT, etc. – it feels that we are the peons and you are the King. We are here to serve you – with no regard to the impact it has on our days, lives, students, time, energy or *GASP* being able to actually do our jobs.

We get emails, mailings, attend conferences that all spout all the great support that College Board is creating, providing and developing to “support the educators and students”, but have they ever really listened to the needs of their customers (the schools and students)? Not nearly enough.


2. You treat us like we are your employees (indentured servants).

Without fail – College Board consistently treats school counselors, teachers, staff and other adults like we are your own employee. You expect us to organize exams, collect funds, proctor exams, return exams, follow stringent (read: ridiculous) security requirements, proctor exams on weekends or our own time, etc. It is the time that College Board realizes it’s (correct) place in the education eco-system and stops acting like it owns all those it interacts with and can bully them into doing the things it wants. Don’t have enough space for your exams? Find it or your exams are invalid. Don’t want to come in on a weekend for a 2 day SAT school site exam? Better find someone who will or we may not let you participate in College Board programs any longer. Need to test at a central location (our school district office) that happens to be about an hour drive each way? Tough – the AP Coordinator will need to drive the day’s exams to and from the site to the test location because it cannot spend the night there (which would add up to over 10 hours simply in the car alone)…it goes on and on.

The honorarium/rebate feels like a slap in the face and I am convinced it is there so you can bury your heads in the sand and say that we did get compensated so you can tell us what to do. False. Almost nobody can actually accept the honorarium because the duties fall during our workday. And don’t get me started on the test proctoring rates for those dreaded weekend exams.


3. You are the richest “non-profit” I’ve ever seen.

Over the past 7 years of records – you have received profits of over $342,000,000 on the backs of educators and students. I am not going to re-write the facts – if you want to read the copious (and cited) details on how bad it really is – check out this article from Nonpartisan Education Review. Prepare to be disgusted.

It’s time to call it what it is – you are a company focused on your bottom line and not much more. Stop painting the pig.


4. You hassle educators for helping kids.

Proof to some of the above is the amount of time you spend making sure that no school gets too many fee waivers. Sheesh! You should be handing out fee waivers (and trusting that we are honest professionals, not backroom waiver dealers) like Oprah hands out goodies. I am sure most school counselors have experienced the push back when you have given out more fee waivers than in prior years and try to order more – you get the shakedown.


So what? What do we need?


1. Start running your own tests – start to finish.

Nearly every other non-state agency test is done at a formalized, staffed and non-school run testing center. You want each kid to be tested in their own room (which is where it seems we will be in a few years time)? Great – have the test center do it. Need kids to wear a pirate patch on one eye during the AP Spanish Language reading writing section so nobody cheats? Let your staff set that up and make sure it is enforced. I am tired of doing your dirty work. Setup regional tests centers – here’s a bright idea – use that $342 mil to have test coordinators come to each school and bring proctors with them! Maybe partner with the local military recruitment centers – they are always game to proctor some exams. You are big enough to deal with your own system. Start doing it. The education system is taxed enough as it is having to take care of every other social need in addition to trying to educate our future generations.


2. Stop taking me away from my job and time with my students.

I have already spent over 20 hours this year simply getting through the PSAT exams alone and we haven’t even gotten into AP exams. I am lucky too – in that, I have advocated and have a district with means to support me not even needing to proctor every exam (I used to when I started so tack on another 30 hours easy). By the end of the year – with me proctoring a few exams where we cannot find subs – I will have spent a good 40 hours minimum on running your exams for you.

David – when you came to the ASCA Leadership Development Institute a few years back – it was painful to watch and listen to. You said things you thought we would want to hear – but it was all shameless self-promotion. I cannot wait until colleges and high schools get brave enough to start bucking the system of standardized exams and the fluff that comes with it. We are starting to see more of it – but it cannot happen soon enough. Let me get back to why I am in my school in the first place – and that is not organizing exams.


3. Stop spending so much money, time and focus on creating the flashy swag and sites.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for swag, great user-friendly websites, and more. But I do not even want to know the budget spent on all the fluff you send out, pockets you pad and lobbying you do (likely not with students at the focus). Counselors would rather have more fee waivers, less placed on our plates by you, and useful tools than mousepads, fancy magnets, posters, travel honoraria (yes – they paid ASCA School Counselors of the Year recipients money), conference sponsorship (even coming from someone who works with CASC), and other junk. You need to get with reality – fund transportation to Saturday exams, help more with supporting locations that will meet your requirements and proctors, help underserved populations more than you do now, and so much more.


David – if it is not clear – I am not your or College Board’s biggest fan. I think there is potential to do good (and you are not all bad) – but boy is it currently heading in the wrong direction. I am sure you won’t read this and if you did – would likely be able to convince yourself that it is somehow a praise article. Anywho – there is a pint of ice cream waiting for me to drown my testing frustrations in.


PS – you can expect an invoice from me for my time and travel when having to transport these tests to and fro over the next few weeks based on the absolutely insane requirements.

PPS – your support agents sound like robots spouting off their agent ID’s (can anyone even write them down that fast?).

An additional comment:

I Just got done boxing up the first AP split shipment from week one alone and I’ve already “donated” 47 free hours organizing, proctoring (limitedly) and coordinating AP exams in just the month of May…with another week (plus late exams) to go…

Did you know – with an average of 80 hours per AP window that the coordinator will need to spend to run these exams – at a school counselor average hourly salary of $20/hour at the 22,169 schools offering AP programs – College Board abuses and gets $35,470,000 worth of labor for free.

Is it a coincidence the the number happens to be essentially College Board’s annual profit? Stop profiting on the backs of school counselors and educators.


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Efficient Educators: Using autoCrat to take the tedium out of school counseling and teaching Sat, 30 Mar 2019 16:28:09 +0000

Efficient Educators:

Using autoCrat to take the tedium out of school counseling and teaching.

AutoCrat: A tool to help you automate your forms

I am excited to get to share a video tutorial for a tool that has been around for a few years, but I use a lot in my school counseling program to help save time and dedicate my energy to working with students. The video will walk you through setting up your first autoCrat job but it will let you create forms that will autofill for you after the submission of a Google Form. You will need to use Google Drive, Forms, Sheets and have permission to use add-ons in Drive. It is useful for a lot of different scenarios and the sky really is the limit. Take a watch below and learn about how to use this super powerful tool.

Have you checked out The School Counselor Shop lately?

I have made quite a few updates, improvements and design additions over at the shop and I hope you take a minute to check out all the great school counseling swag. Each sale also helps support our annual School Counselor Community Scholarship Program too!


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The Other Side of the Submit Button: Holding a HS College Admissions Case Study Wed, 05 Dec 2018 15:49:23 +0000

The Other Side of the Submit Button

Holding a HS College Admissions Case Study
Watch our 2nd Annual Case StudyDownload My College SWAG Letter Template

College Admissions Case Study 101:


2018 was the third year that my school hosted our annual College Admissions Case Study event and it was a huge hit for the third year running. Not familiar with a Case Study? Don’t worry – I am going to walk you through what it is and how to run your first one over the next few minutes.

Be sure to check out some of the links above and below for resources, tools and other tutorials I use to make it run super smoothly. It does take some planning, pre-thinking, and a little luck/networking, but running a case study is not THAT difficult if you realize the huge benefits for students and parents in your community. I am working on a full Case Study packet that I hope to have available on my Teachers Pays Teachers store before the end of the school year (it is a LOT of work to put together three full fake Common Apps complete with transcripts, essays, and such). So check back to see any updates.

Ok….so what is it?


A case study takes a group (it could be all students, all parents, or a mixture) through the process that a general admissions team may use when deciding to admit, waitlist or deny them during the admission committee review. You can think of it similar to the series I posted on the other side of the job application process – letting people see past the mysterious veil that hides the behind the scenes steps. Often there are many assumptions and false beliefs that exist about college admissions, so this event helps families see how difficult the process actually is and that (spoiler alert) it is not always the candidate that has the best grades or seems like they are an easy admit who get the spot. The college reps (who are essential to this event) will lead their groups through about an hour or so of reading, evaluating and ranking about 3 fake applicants. The group discusses what they noticed about each applicant, how the application meets the fake university’s admissions priorities and which will make the best fit for the school.


How do I get started?


I would highly suggest partnering up with other local schools. We have used this approach with very high success in my area. I have created a counseling coop with our two comprehensive public high school counselors and two of our local private school college counselors to provide an extended reach for both students and college reps. Having more cooks in the kitchen, in this circumstance, is often helpful to spread the work out. The planning process often takes most of the leg work for the counselors. We start about 9-10 months prior to our planned date. The first step is to pool your connections and reach out to find college reps who are able and willing to come to your event and lead the different case study groups. This event cannot happen without them. We use a short survey (using Google Forms or TypeForm) to garner interest from both the NACAC Listserv and the College Admissions Counselors Facebook Group (closed – must request access) – both are excellent resources. In our first year we had about 6 reps attend (which we thought was pretty good for our first go) and since we have had 8. Almost half have been return guests each year and they represent a very wide variety of schools. This provides value, insight and depth to the conversation. We usually give reps an idea of a weekend (we target one that is close to some of our larger regional fairs if possible so they are already in the area) when asking if they can come – but know that most have not finalized their fall travel plans in March/April. You will also want to try to aim for no more than about 25 people per rep – 15 is often better – so you will have to plan ahead or limit your attendees. More on this later.

Once you have a good list of reps – you have to find your materials. We have used the following as a great starter resource and case study samples from RACC – the Regional Admissions Counselors of California:

Getting people signed up.


In my opinion (and experience) pre-registration is essential for a smooth event. Not only will it help you ensure that groups run smoothly, it also will help diminish the “college hunting” and “family packs”. We have some reps attend from schools with more “clout” than others and often students/parents will try to weasel their way into the groups with those reps. While not a bad thing – we are very clear that this event is not a college fair and not really about any specific colleges (they do speak some about their own practices at the end of the event…keep reading). We use random assignments to their case study groups and often purposefully do not put parents and kids in the same group together. This does two things – the kids feel free to be themselves and they also get to have two different experiences to talk about later. You will get a little flack for it – but trust me – stick with it. Much worse the other way.


There are many ways to go about getting registrations in both high and low tech modes. We have chosen to use Eventbrite for each year we’ve hosted the Case Study. Eventbrite is a powerful event registration tool often used for things like concerts, but for our purposes (as of this writing) – it is also a FREE and pretty simple way to manage your registrations. For a full walkthrough on Eventbrite – please check out this other post on my blog:

Using Eventbrite In Your School: The Easy Event Management App

I didn’t sign up to be an event coordinator…

I am not quite sure about you, but when I got my Masters for school counseling – I didn’t realize how much event (and test) coordination would tag along with the job. I typically dread processing registrations, sign ups and getting info out to attendees for things like parent nights, test prep workshops, and most recently – a community college case study. It just wears on you.

Luckily, I rediscovered and re-purposed a great online program (and yes – there is an app for that) that takes 75% of the headache of event planning away!

With Eventbrite – there are a few tools that are useful to use before and after the event happens. Before – you can easily plan and send reminders, updates or info (like the digital copy of the case study to review in advance) straight from the platform. You also can export attendees in to an Excel file to create name tags (more later), ask specific questions of each registrant (like if they are a parent or student, what grade, what school, etc) and much much more. This helps with your post event data analysis and planning for the next year. Attendees can also register and then cancel their registrations if needed up to the event.

Due to our rep amounts – we did limit our groups in advance to 25 per group (multiply by 8 and you get our max attendees of 200) and set our ticket amount to that maximum size. When we do it again – we will likely add about 1/8-1/4 extra on top to account for the last minute “something better came ups” and no shows.


The weeks leading up to the event


The weeks leading up to the event contain mostly logistical items. Someone should connect and confirm with the reps, provide details (and the case study sample in advance) and have a point of contact. We created a short Google Slides presentation with info about our fake college, overview of the event, intro slides (with room numbers) for each rep and then a final tally slide to review the case study decisions. Nothing too fancy, but enough to have on the screen while people talk. We also print out name tags using the export feature from Eventbrite and Excel. One step that is more advanced that I choose to do is to randomly assign group numbers. I typically will simply sort by first name (not last) and then use the autofill feature after entering the total amount of groups (1-8 in our example) for all attendees and then re-sorting by last name. This effectively randomizes it for our purposes. We also send out the digital copy (PDF) of the case study that I condense into a simple package (you can download below) and request that all attendees review prior to the event (most don’t) and also for them to each print their own copy (most don’t) or bring it digitally (surprising amount do). Each school (4 for our example) will print about 25 packets to have on hand for those who simply do not have a copy. That usually is sufficient and we get better each year.


The Main Event


The day of (we do a Saturday afternoon) we usually set up about 2 hours in advance. People will check in about 30 minutes in advance up to the start and receive a name tag. We try to check in on Eventbrite, but we were pretty relaxed about it this year and used the printed nametags to gauge numbers. Starting in a large room (our auditorium) we introduce the concept of the day, talk breifly about the fake school and introduce our reps. This takes about 15 minutes. The groups the go to their classroom they are assigned to and the college reps will lead the groups through their process (each does it slightly different and that is perfect – it represents how colleges read too) which takes roughly an hour and forty five minutes (more or less) and come up with their decisions after much discussion.

The groups will return and we run a 30 minute debrief where each rep reports out their group choices – it is a room full of suspense and surprise – and a little about why they decided that way as a group. We then ask each rep to talk briefly about how their own institution would have approached a pool like the fake students and which would fare best in their process. Finally – we host about 15 minutes of Q&A with the audience. I make sure that students are asking the most questions.


The After Party


While we public schools cannot fund adult beverages – our private school partners can. We provide the space and for the past three years – we have hosted an evening happy hour following the event with some hosted apps and a drink. This provides a great thank you to your college reps and allows some great opportunities to mingle and talk shop/life. We’ve been told that our event is one of the better they go to and are glad that we get reps asking to come back year over year. We do ensure that we have variety, but it is also nice to have some consistency too with some of our excellent reps we have come out who are proven hits.

Below take a look at just a few photos from our event this last year – it was a lot of work, a lot of fun and a lot of learning.

Are you going to host your first Case Study?


I hope you are and I hope that this post was helpful to your planning process. If you have questions – please reach out. If you host one – I’d love to know how it went, see photos or learn about a creative way you approached it. Please leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

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ASCA 2018 Presentation – Make Your School Counseling Program POP with PR and Marketing Tue, 17 Jul 2018 20:55:46 +0000

ASCA 2018 Presentation - Make Your School Counseling Program POP with PR and Marketing

Check out our presentation from the 2018 ASCA Conference in LA.

Marketing Matters

I am all for open source and when possible – I make my resources free. I had the opportunity to present with Franciene Sabens at the 2018 American School Counselor Association conference in July 2018 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We presented on using marketing tools and techniques in the school counseling profession. While the slide deck doesn’t capture everything we covered – it does have some great links and you can get a feel for the presentation.

We also collected notes and compiled them into a shared Google Drive folder. You can click here to check that info out too.

Want to submit your notes? Share them with me in Google Drive at or you can also upload to Dropbox via the second button. Enjoy!

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Shared Resources: #ASCA18 Shared Session Notes Folder Sun, 15 Jul 2018 00:01:01 +0000

Shared Resources: #ASCA18 Shared Session Notes Folder

Get some of the big take-aways from the ASCA Conference as noted by your colleagues.

Little Nuggets

Not everyone can attend the ASCA Conference each year. However, you shouldn’t miss out on some of the bits of info that come out of it each year. While we cannot share the presenter handouts – we can share our notes. Below you will find a link to access the shared Google Drive folder with the notes that were shared with me to share with you. Many people contributed and we hope that it helps you!

Want to submit your notes? Share them with me in Google Drive at or you can also upload to Dropbox via the second button. Enjoy!

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6 Things School Counselors Should Tell Students About College Apps (Guest Post) Sun, 24 Jun 2018 17:27:25 +0000

6 Things School Counselors Should Tell Students About College Apps

A guest blog post from writer Dave Klaus on the importance of supporting students in HS in the financial aid process.

(This is a guest post written by Dave Klaus – Jeff edited the post lightly but the content, opinions and language are Dave’s.)

Аs а nеw сlаss оf studеnts stаrts рlаnnіng thеіr futurеs, hеrе аrе sіх vаluаblе ріесеs оf аdvісе sсhооl соunsеlоrs саn оffеr studеnts:

1. Dоn’t Lеt Моnеу Ѕtаnd іn Yоur Wау

Аs а sсhооl соunsеlоr, іt’s уоur јоb tо hеlр studеnts gеt whеrе thеу wаnt tо gо. Оnе оf thе bіggеst оbstасlеs studеnts fасе аs thеу аррrоасh соllеgе аррlісаtіоn sеаsоn іs соnсеrn оvеr thе fіnаnсіаl burdеn. Еvеrуоnе knоws thаt соllеgе саn bе ехреnsіvе, аnd mаnу studеnts mау hаvе gоttеn іt іntо thеіr hеаds thаt thе соst оf hіghеr еduсаtіоn іs аn іmраssе bеtwееn thеm аnd thеіr аmbіtіоns.

Тhіs іs а fаllасу, аnd mоst studеnts јust nееd а lіttlе – wеll—guіdаnсе! Моst sсhооl соunsеlоrs wіll hаvе а hаndу lіst оf рrоmіsіng sсhоlаrshірs thаt studеnts саn аррlу fоr, аs wеll аs іntіmаtе knоwlеdgе оf hоw tо аррlу fоr аnd rесеіvе fіnаnсіаl аіd аnd studеnt lоаns.

Маnу соunsеlоrs, hоwеvеr, may оvеrlооk rесоmmеndіng hіgh-quаlіtу оnlіnе unіvеrsіtіеs tо thеіr studеnts. Тhіs саn bе а grеаt орtіоn fоr studеnts lооkіng fоr аn аffоrdаblе аltеrnаtіvе tо shеllіng оut tеns оf thоusаnds оn tuіtіоn, аs wеll аs fоr studеnts whо wаnt tо stаrt wоrkіng аftеr hіgh sсhооl.

Тhеrе аrе аlsо аbоut а hundrеd smаll wауs thаt studеnts саn sаvе mоnеу оn thе оvеrаll соst оf соllеgе. Оnе оf thе bіggеst “lіttlе” ехреnsеs fоr соllеgе studеnts іs tехtbооks. Luсkіlу, thеrе аrе а lоt оf grеаt wауs tо gеt thе bооks уоu nееd fоr frее оr fоr сhеар.

Еvеrу соunsеlоr shоuld hаvе а hаndу lіst оf “hасks” tо sаvе mоnеу оn соllеgе. Неrе’s а grеаt оnе frоm fаstwеb.соm whісh hаs hеlрful suggеstіоns lіkе vоluntееrіng іnstеаd оf gоіng оn аn ехреnsіvе sрrіng brеаk trір (studеnts mау роut, but thеіr rеsumеs аnd wаllеts wіll thаnk thеm lаtеr.)


2. Fоllоw Yоur Вlіss

Rеnоwnеd sсhоlаr Јоsерh Саmрbеll wоuld tеll аll оf hіs studеnts thе sаmе ріесе оf аdvісе: “Fоllоw Yоur Вlіss.” Whеn lооkіng іntо соllеgеs, mаnу studеnts аrе sо bоggеd dоwn thіnkіng аbоut соst, lосаtіоn, аnd lоgіstісs thаt thеу fоrgеt tо соnsіdеr whаt thеу wаnt.

Тhе оnlу рrоblеm wіth thе “fоllоw уоur blіss” mеntаlіtу іs thаt mаnу studеnts іn hіgh sсhооl dоn’t уеt knоw whаt thеіr blіss іs. Ѕtер оnе, tеll thеm tо rеlах аnd аssurе thеsе studеnts thаt іt іs реrfесtlу ассерtаblе tо bе unsurе оf оnе’s еntіrе futurе аt аgе еіghtееn. Ѕtер twо, hеlр studеnts turn thіs bіg quеstіоn іntо а mоrе mаnаgеаblе оnе bу brеаkіng іt dоwn.

School соunsеlоrs саn аsk а sеrіеs оf quеstіоns tо hеlр studеnts stаrt thіnkіng аbоut whаt раth thеу wаnt tо fоllоw іn lіfе. Тhе роіnt оf thеsе quеstіоns іs nоt nесеssаrіlу tо сhurn оut аn аnswеr, but rаthеr tо gеt studеnts thіnkіng соnstruсtіvеlу аbоut thеіr futurеs.

Аsk quеstіоns аbоut whаt thеу hаvе еnјоуеd studуіng sо fаr іn Ніgh Ѕсhооl, оr whаt thеу wіsh thеу соuld hаvе studіеd but dіdn’t hаvе thе сhаnсе. Аsk thеm whаt thеу hаtе dоіng thе mоst аt sсhооl аnd whаt thеу lоvе dоіng thе mоst whеn thеу’rе nоt аt sсhооl. Аsk thеm іf thеу lіkе thіnkіng сrеаtіvеlу, wоrkіng wіth реорlе оr wоrkіng іndереndеntlу, wоrkіng wіth thеіr hаnds оr wоrkіng wіth соmрutеrs.

Тhеіr аnswеrs wіll stаrt а dіаlоguе аnd gіvе school соunsеlоrs а bеttеr sеnsе оf hоw tо hеlр.


3. Yоu Саn Ѕtudу Аnуwhеrе

Оnе thіng thаt саn gеt studеnts rеаllу ехсіtеd аbоut thеіr еduсаtіоn іs thе рrоsресt оf mоvіng tо а nеw рlасе. Whеthеr іts Еаst Соаstеrs dуіng tо sоаk uр thе sun іn Саlіfоrnіа оr Міdwеstеrnеrs drеаmіng оf studуіng іn thе Віg Аррlе, thіs саn bе а grеаt wау fоr sсhооl соunsеlоrs tо ассеss studеnt’s еnthusіаsm аnd mоtіvаtіоn.

Rеmіnd studеnts thаt thеу саn studу аnуwhеrе thеу wаnt, еvеn оutsіdе оf thе соuntrу. Countries like Germany and much of Scandinavia offer free tuition for national and international students to study at many of their universities (even through graduate school). The cost of living in these countries can sometimes offset the savings in tuition – so be cautious with jumping in fully without due diligence.

Тhеrе іs а flірsіdе tо thіs, hоwеvеr. Fоr еvеrу studеnt, ехсіtеd tо gо sеt uр саmр іn а nеw сіtу оr соuntrу, thеrе іs а studеnt whо іs dіsmауеd bесаusе thе еduсаtіоnаl орроrtunіtіеs hе оr shе wаnts аrе nоt іn thе lосаtіоn hе оr shе nееds tо bе іn.


4. Маkе Quаlіtу Сhоісеs

Νо mаttеr whаt раth уоur studеnts аrе еmbаrkіng оn, strеss tо thеm thаt thеу shоuld mаkе quаlіtу сhоісеs. Whеthеr сhооsіng аn оnlіnе unіvеrsіtу оr аn оn-саmрus еduсаtіоn, fіnd а рlасе thаt рuts а рrеmіum оn еduсаtіоnаl ехсеllеnсе.

Маkе surе studеnts аrе lооkіng іntо ассrеdіtеd рrоgrаms оnlу sо thаt thеіr dеgrееs wіll trulу bе wоrth thе еffоrt thеу рut іntо thеm.


5. Gеt Рrераrеd

Маnу studеnts fіnd thеmsеlvеs оvеrwhеlmеd durіng thеіr fіrst уеаrs оf hіghеr еduсаtіоn. Тhіngs lіkе lіvіng аlоnе fоr thе fіrst tіmе, аs wеll аs іnсrеаsеd соursеwоrk, саn оvеrwhеlm studеnts аnd саusе bіg sеtbасks fоr frеshmеn. Аs а school соunsеlоr, thе bеst thіng tо dо fоr studеnts іn thіs rеgаrd іs tо рrер thеm. Dоn’t sugаrсоаt thе dіffісultіеs оf соllеgе. Ве hоnеst аbоut thе tоugh раrts, аnd thеу’ll trust уоu еvеn mоrе whеn уоu tеll thеm аbоut thе rеwаrdіng аnd ехсіtіng раrts.

Еnсоurаgе thеm tо stаrt рrасtісіng bеttеr оrgаnіzаtіоnаl аnd tіmе mаnаgеmеnt skіlls nоw, whіlе thеу’rе stіll іn hіgh sсhооl. Реrhарs rесоmmеnd gеttіng а раrt-tіmе јоb tо lеаrn аbоut rеsроnsіbіlіtу, іndереndеnсе, аnd аlsо tо sаvе uр а lіttlе mоnеу fоr lаtе nіght studу соffееs frоm Ѕtаrbuсks.


6. Yоu Саn Dо Іt

Тhе mоst іmроrtаnt thіng а school соunsеlоr саn оffеr, hоwеvеr, іs fаіth. Gеt bеhіnd уоur studеnts. Неlр thеm fіgurе оut whаt thеу wаnt аnd wаnt іt fоr thеm јust аs muсh. Тhеу’ll fееl уоur соnfіdеnсе іn thеm аnd іt wіll mаkе аll thе dіffеrеnсе.

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