If you think the concept behind Teach for America, diluting the profession with bright, happy-go-lucky, non-professional college grads, many of whom can’t find jobs in their chosen field, is just for teachers, think again.
College Advising Corps could be called Counselors for America. The group might seem different than Teach for America (TFA) because they don’t actually steal counseling jobs, yet. But don’t be misled. In some places they are referred to as a new way to do counseling. HERE. And behind this group is something even more questionable—digital advising. Soon, we may not have any real school guidance counselors left working in schools.
In many ways the College Advising Corps are replacing guidance counselors, because in a lot of places counselors have lost their jobs—like teachers. I wrote about the problems facing counselors before and the critical importance of the services school guidance counselors provide. HERE.
Counselors are swamped. More and more their roles, especially at the high school level, have been revamped into acting primarily as college advisors and test administrators. They can’t serve hundreds of students well—cannot help them with their personal problems—a role the school guidance counselor has always been known for, because of such huge caseloads.
So instead of policymakers improving counseling services, or hiring more real counselors, they are taking the cheap way out. They are producing advising cheerleaders.
The best thing to do would have been to provide incentives for college students to enter actual counselor preparation degree programs in our nation’s universities. Like, instead of just leading everyone into free community colleges for job-prep for corporations, they could offer free tuition for those interested in making school counseling a longtime career.
Instead, they are paying young graduates $20,000 to $30,000 to temporarily spend time helping real counselors with their huge caseloads. Then, like most in TFA, they will move on. A few might make counseling an actual career—if there are any counseling careers left.
Recognizing the concerns many have towards TFA, College Advising Corps is made to sound more user-friendly. They are supposed to be helpers. The student corps members are even coached not to act like know-it-alls, a common criticism of TFA. But that’s sadly funny, now, for teachers to hear. TFA types have been encouraged to flaunt their message of superiority for years.
And if you read between the lines there are all kinds of subtle messages that show what this group seems to about too. For example, Education Week quotes one of the student advisers as saying, “It’s really easy to identify with the students that have the need. As opposed to a traditional counselor, they really listen to me.” I’d say that is pushing the needle into the know-it-all domain.
I have always believed that college students acting as aides to teachers and, in this case, counselors, could be a good thing. I did it myself for two summers as a teachers aide in a summer elementary migrant education program before I decided to be a real teacher. Teacher Aide for America, like Counseling Aide for America, could be a good program to support teachers and schools.
But I fear the times we live in aren’t about such programs. They are about cheapening education when it comes to service and increasing the profit for privatized services and upper management.
To prove my point, the College Advising Corps, according to Education Week, goes on to describe how the group is also involved with virtual counseling. Here, it seems, is most likely the real goal. From the same Ed. Week article cited above.
The e-advising initiative, financed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports the CAC, and two other college-access nonprofits, College Possible in St. Paul, Minn., and the Milpitas, Calif.-based Strive for College, in providing long-distance advising to students.
And David “doesn’t-give-an-expletive” Coleman’s College Board is also involved!
The College Board, the New York City-based organization that sponsors the SAT, identifies low-income students who have scored at least 1250 on the SAT and invites them by email to consult with a College Advising Corps e-adviser. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, in Lansdowne, Va., matches names with College Possible for college advice.
So, ultimately, my guess is the push will be to not have school guidance counselors at all. There will be online high school programs to guide students to more online college programs…so they can get online degrees. Then they will run the online programs, for the people who decided online programs were better than people programs and real school guidance counselors–counselors who were professionally prepared to address the problems of young people, and who also helped guide them to the right universities.