Counseling: A Herculean Task

If you’re a counselor and you feel overwhelmed, it's not your fault.  

What you already know, and what the rest of the world should know, is that public school counselors are overworked and under-resourced.  

According to a recent article in Education Week “the average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 482-to-1 -- nearly double the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association.”

I don’t know about you, but one counselor working to guide the futures of 482 students seems like a truly herculean task.  And it gets worse; 482:1 is just the average. States like Arizona, California, Michigan, and Mississippi all have averages over 700:1.

If you’re a regular here on the Spotlight Blog, you might remember a post a few weeks back titled An Alarming Statistic.  It turns out that the typical counselor (serving an average of 482 students!) is able to spend just 38 minutes with each student in their caseload, each year.  Which means that the average student spends less than 3 hours with a counselor over the course of their entire high school career!

While it may be difficult to put a finger on the precise amount of time a student should spend with a counselor each year, we can be sure that 38 minutes is nowhere near enough.

The 38 minutes statistic is truly alarming.  It presents a complicated problem and one that needs to be attacked on several fronts, by both public institutions and private ones.  At Spotlight we’ve taken on this challenge and focused our efforts on saving time for counselors.

Here’s how:

As counselors prepare for student meetings, they must collect student grades, coursework and test scores; compare each student’s performance against graduation and college entrance requirements; and after collecting and analyzing all this information, they must then form a conclusion and make recommendations to the student.

It's a time-consuming process that can take anywhere between five and fifteen minutes of the counselor’s time before each student meeting -- in other words, roughly a third of the time the counselor has with that student.

With our College and Career Readiness Guide (CCRG), we’ve automated that process for the counselor.  We collect the grades/coursework and test scores, we compare them against graduation and college entrance requirements, and we even make personalized recommendations to the student based on their specific areas of need.

Let's put this automation into perspective.  

The average counselor meets with each of their 482 students twice in a school year, resulting in 964 student meetings (some meet more often, some less).  Spotlight can save the counselor between five and fifteen minutes before each of these 964 meetings, which means we’re talking about a time savings of between two and six weeks over the course of a year!

That kind of time savings allows the counselor to spend more time with each student, discussing deeper issues and getting to know each student a little bit better.


If you’re a counselor, or you know someone who is, check out our website and explore what the College and Career Readiness Guide might be able to do for you.