What are the steps into becoming a High School Counselor?
Hello! My name is Mariela and I am currently a second year in college. My declared major as of now Criminology, Law and Society, but I'm planning to transfer under a Sociology major. Before I didn't know what exactly to do with a Sociology degree, and I know I want to do something with kids. I finally decided that I wanted to be a high school counselor. So I'm planning to double major in Sociology and Education, and go to graduate school.
Would this be a good start? Also, what other steps should I take or need to do?
Great question, you are absolutely on the right track! To become a school counselor, your undergraduate does not have to be one exact major, it can be psychology, sociology, education, communications, etc. as long as it is related to the field you want to do. As for double majoring, I think it is awesome that you want to do both sociology and education, but if it means taking more time doing your undergraduate program then I say do not do it. Instead, try to graduate within 4 years or faster with any of the majors I stated before if possible, meet up with your academic advisor and see which major you will be able to complete the quickest in the liberal arts with all the classes you have taken so far. Your undergrad is important, but as long as you have a good GPA, any kind of experience with kids (preferably internships), and a related degree to Education, you will be set for a good graduate program. So, if doing only one degree whether it be Education OR Sociology will help you graduate faster, definitely take it and try to move on to your graduate program ASAP with a 3.0 or higher GPA.
Once you have completed your undergrad, apply to multiple graduate programs that have Master’s in school counseling, this program usually takes 1 1/2-3 years depending on your pace, with this degree you will have all the educational requirements needed to move forward and gain your certification of counseling which will vary depending on your state. Once you have completed all the certifications needed, you can get your certification of counseling and begin applying for jobs as a school counselor.
Biggest takeaways: Your undergrad is important, but not as important or critical as you may think. Think of it more as a gateway towards getting your Master’s degree which will be the biggest educational achievement on your resume. Try and graduate early if possible and move on to your Master’s (this is the education where you will learn the most about your SPECIFIC career).
Next steps: Meet with your academic advisor and see which major related to education such as (Education, Sociology, Psychology, or Communications) will allow you to graduate quickly or allow you to intern and gain experience in college for the best chance at getting into a top-tier graduate program. It’s never to early to find your dream school to get your Master’s in.
Good Luck and I hope this helped!
Counseling may be a more lucrative degree plan, but I would encourage you to perhaps speak with your high school guidance department, as well as the advising department at your current institution to gain better insight into the degree requirements for this field. Your institution may also have a Career Services department which would be beneficial to discuss your professional goals and aspirations so they can help guide you accordingly. It is always advantageous to increase your marketability and secure future career opportunities by earning a graduate degree; however, I would suggest pursuing an avenue that would add to your undergraduate credentials, as opposed to repeating them. For instance, should you proceed with a sociology/education undergraduate degree, you may want to pursue a graduate degree in a related, but different field, e.g. counseling, psychology, etc. Also, gain as much relative experience as you can as employers will not only seek to hire those with the education, but with the applicable experience as well. Talk to as many people as you can who are in the field so you can have a wider view of the diverse backgrounds associated with the position. All the best to you! :)
Check the program you would like to apply to and see if there are any classes you have to/can take now. There may be a few prerequisite courses for the program. Also see if you’ll need to take the GRE test or anything of that nature to get accepted. Having all of this done ahead of time will help your chances so much. Good luck!
Kelly recommends the following next steps:
It seems like you're on the right track! I was a sociology major, and I learned necessary skills and topics such as data analysis, theory, sociology and religion, and counseling. You can definitely apply from what you are learning to practice; aka theory to practice. I think if you want to be a school counselor, the education minor will come in handy, because you will be equipped with how to work well with different types of students. If you want to go into counseling, you would have to get a masters in counseling or guidance counseling, so you are qualified to become a school counselor. I would suggest you also do some informational interviews with school counselors to get a better sense of what they do on a daily basis.