Students are often encouraged to build relationships with their counselors, but the value of a strong student-counselor relationship can be overlooked. The support and stability counselors are able to bring to students’ academic lives are indispensable, and cultivating a strong bond with one’s counselor is essential to making the most of this critical relationship.
There are a multitude of reasons to build a bond with your counselor, in addition to receiving a good letter of recommendation for college. Counselors help students strive for academic success, find extracurricular opportunities, and plan for life after high school.
A College Board summary containing the findings of six studies on the effect of school counselors on student outcomes wrote that a solid academic counseling program drastically increased students’ ACT scores, the number of students taking the ACT, and enhanced students’ results in math and reading as measured by state achievement tests.
Stella Pfeifer, a Berkeley High School senior, spoke about how students should go about building relationships with their counselors and whether it should be on the students or the counselors to reach out. “Self-advocacy is a great skill … I think all students should be actively reaching out to their counselors. … At the same time, students are busy, and I think it’s important for counselors to make their faces known,” said Pfiefer.
Pfeifer also spoke about her relationship with her previous BHS counselor. “I had Ms. Offerman since freshman year,” Pfeifer said. “I had a very good relationship with her because I talked to her a lot. She was always very responsive and helped a lot with the college process and choosing classes,” Pfiefer added.
With almost 6,000 postsecondary colleges in the United States, seeking guidance from a school counselor is vital to finding the right institutions. Building a solid relationship with one’s counselor helps them understand your passions, skills, and hopes. With this understanding, counselors can provide necessary help finding colleges, facilitating the college process, and writing an excellent letter of recommendation. If a student is not interested in college, there are also many options available to them after high school, and it can be very overwhelming to navigate them alone. Luckily, with the help of counselors, students don’t have to. If a counselor has a good understanding of a student, they can tailor their advice to the student’s personal path.
A strong relationship with a school counselor can also be a very beneficial resource for students’ mental health. Counselors can help students cultivate good academic habits as well as good mental health habits. Counselors also act as connectors between students and the school. They can help students advocate for accommodations, and answer any questions about school students might have. Both of these things are easier when students and counselors have a strong relationship.
When Ms. Offermann retired, Pfeifer and her fellow counselees were left in a tricky situation: their counselor leaving right before senior year. “I was definitely upset and [saddened] because I had a really good relationship with Ms. Offermann,” Pfeifer said. A certain level of fear soon followed the frustration and sadness. Pfeifer had to build a relationship with a new, crucial figure for her college prospects in just a few months. “Senior year is when counselors start to play a big role, and I was scared when she left because I was back to square one,” Pfeifer said. The emotions felt after counselors depart are yet another testament to the importance of students’ relationship with them.
Having excellent counselors at BHS is a privilege, and students should take full advantage of it by building strong relationships with them.” The best part about having a good relationship [with my counselor] is simply having an adult I’m comfortable with and that I can go to with anything I need,” Pfeifer said.