The Guidance Counselor Shortage

In many high schools, students have the opportunity to see their college guidance counselor only once a year.  One time.  In the entire year.  Don’t blame the students or the counselors though.  This statistic makes sense when you hear that public school counselors in the U.S. now have an average caseload of 471 students!

471 is not a typo. According to an article in Time Magazine, the American High School Counselor Association (ASCA) said public school counselors in the U.S. now have an average caseload of 471 students. The recommended student to school counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor.  Nationwide the average ratio is 239 students, but some states like Florida averaged 451 students per counselor in 2011.   To make matters worse, budget cuts are forcing some counselors to spend even less time with students and more time on other unrelated responsibilities, like handling discipline issues, supervising the cafeteria at lunch, or proctoring exams.

In contrast, counselors in private schools have a median caseload of 106, according to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). But even though the article uses the word “only” before the 106, that number is high, too. Each student is different and there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. alone, thousands of different academic tracks, and any number of ways to pay the tuition.

While we’ve rarely met a high school counselor who has not done a high quality, professional job, needless to say, the numbers make life difficult. College counselors are often the primary source of information about college and without their help many students end up at colleges that are the wrong fit for them, or never learn about scholarships and/or financial aid for which they may qualify. A number of students give up and never attend college.

Colleges are more expensive, and the college process is more confusing than ever. Students need a counselor for help with everything from choosing the right high school courses to take, planning their SAT/ACT exam schedule, selecting the best colleges for themselves, completing the college applications, getting financial aid, scholarships, and more.

To us, it’s penny wise and pound-foolish.

If you’re looking for more personalized and individualized attention with the college admissions process, please be sure to lobby your politician or school headmaster, and of course, make sure to contact us atInternational College Counselors.



This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.


For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.