Overwhelmed by classwork? Scared because your parents are splitting up? Worried about a friend? Feel like you don't fit in?
With a problem on your mind, you may lose sleep. You might find you can't focus on homework. If problems pile up, you could even become depressed.
Everyone goes through tough times — but you don’t have to sort through them alone. When you need support or advice, your school counselor can be a great person to talk with.
How Do School Counselors Help Students?
School counselors are trained to help students with all sorts of things. Their role is different at each school, but here are some things most school counselors can do.
- School counselors can help with school and career planning. For example, they can:
- help you plan your schedule
- coach you on study skills
- help if you’re having problems in a class or want to improve your grades
- advise you on taking the right classes to get into your dream college
- help you find out how to prepare for the SATs
- offer advice on how to write a college application essay or how to prepare a job application
- help you learn about careers and plan for life after high school
- offer learning support for students who need extra help, or provide a quiet classroom where students can do schoolwork
- Counselors can help with personal issues. They are trained to:
- be good and thoughtful listeners
- give you support when you want to share a problem
- talk things through with you and help you make good decisions
- help you get extra help if you need it
- Some counselors lead support groups for students who are going through the same issues. Ask your counselor what support groups are offered at your school. For example, some schools have groups for:
- LGBTQ+ students
- students with social anxiety
- dealing with grief when a loved one dies
- learning mindfulness
- improving study skills
How Do I See the Counselor?
Seeing a counselor is different at each school. You may be assigned a counselor (or advisor) when you start the school year. Or your school may leave it up to you to go to the counseling office on your own. Your school counselor might visit each class to let students know how to see them.
Your school's website, someone in the school office, or a trusted teacher can also tell you how to see the counselor. In most schools, students can make an appointment with the counselor to talk about whatever’s on their mind.
What if I Don't Have a Problem?
Students can talk to counselors about things other than problems. Maybe you have ideas for ways to make your school more welcoming to new students. Or you want to hold a fundraiser for a cause that matters to you. Maybe you want to start a climate action group or a group that can help stop youth violence. You might want to organize student volunteers to tutor younger kids. Your school counselor could be the person to help you make it happen.
Even if you don’t have a problem, your school counselor can be a good person to know. They might turn out to be a helpful adult mentor — someone who can guide you through high school or toward a career that fits your strengths. So, stop in and say hello. Share what’s going well for you. And if you need their help or advice, just ask!
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2022