We recently attended the Western Association for College Admission Counseling conference, or WACAC, as the cool kids call it. Our time at WACAC was very informative and we came away from those 3 days in Monterey with a renewed drive to continue delivering real value to students and other stakeholders through the products we build.
One of our biggest takeaways came during Dr. Patricia M. McDonough's opening session when she referenced something we’ve come to refer to at Spotlight as “the 38 minutes stat”. The average counselor is able to spend just 38 minutes with each student in their caseload, each year.
That’s a truly alarming statistic. That means that students spend less than 3 hours with a counselor over the course of their entire high school career!
To add some perspective, the average high school freshman will spend 9 hours a day consuming media (video, social, etc), and less than 3 hours with their counselor over the next 4 years of high school.
It goes without saying, but it’s worth repeating: the 38 minutes statistic is by no means the fault of the counselor. We all know that counselor is just one of many jobs that counselors are asked to perform. Others include disciplinarian, administrator, chaperone, driver, special assignment guru, etc. Counselors are wearing multiple hats and are strapped for time.
So who's to blame for the 38 minutes stat? There’s certainly plenty of blame to go around. You could point to lack of school funding at federal, state, and local levels. Or to the impossible budgetary choices districts are forced to make. But the truth is, this is a systemic problem that has been created slowly, over time, by all of us. And we all have a role to play in setting it right.
Those of us in edtech have an obligation to build tools that solve problems impacting students. In this case the problem is lack of access to critical time with a counselor. As we continue to work on this problem with tools like the College and Career Readiness Guide, it is our hope that a chorus of voices will grow in support of expanding counseling programs in high schools across the U.S.
Our students deserve more than 38 minutes of counseling each year.