As the busy spring season is in full swing at high schools students and faculty are acutely aware that there is a shortage of high school guidance counselors.

A Shortage of High School Guidance Counselors

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In the 2008-09 school year, for example, the average ratio of guidance counselors to students nationwide was 457 to 1. By 2011 – the most recent year for which numbers are available – the ratio had increased to 471 students per single counselor.

 
It’s hardly the “ideal” of 250-1 recommended by some area school officials and the American School Counselors Association.
 
It’s even worse in Ohio, where one counselor served an average of 480 students, but marginally better among Kentucky high schools with a ratio of 444-1, according to data from the National Center of Education Statistics.
 
Counselors, educators say, are becoming ever more necessary.
 
Unlike 10 or so years ago, when counselors primarily helped students apply for college and financial aid, their offices now echo with pleas for help in dealing with a host of teenage woes.
 
They dispense advice on everything from mental health issues, family problems, bullying, social media pitfalls, peer suicides, grief counseling and drug abuse to traditional topics like college testing guidance and providing references for students headed to college or the job market.
A Shortage of High School Guidance Counselors

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Former high school counselor Brian Martin has seen firsthand the challenges faced by fading ranks of high school guidance counselors. In every high school, society’s future walks into counselors’ offices, he said, lugging with them a distressing array of modern woes.
 
“Counselors are even more important today than they have ever been due to all the issues they have to address,” the Ross High School principal said.
 
Years of budget slashing is to blame for the drop in their number. They’re often first on the chopping block when school districts look to cut costs.
 
They still help the top performers as those students head to college, but they are increasingly called upon to help lift troubled teens, said Martin and area school counselors.
 
“The student-to-counselor ratio is higher than it has ever been … (as) schools are almost being asked to serve as social service agencies,” Martin said.
 
“All of these things schools are now expected to address with students and, unfortunately, the amount of personnel available to address those issues has been declining,” said Martin, whose 950-student enrollment is split among three counselors.
 
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A Shortage of High School Guidance Counselors

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