Skip to main content

Arkansas State University

The Main Responsibilities of a School Counselor

In many light-hearted high school and coming-of-age films, the school counselor is often presented as an insensitive adult who gives advice – often discouraging – about the college application process and “making good choices.” Although these are part of a counselor’s duties, this portrayal is far from complete. Nowadays, school counselors must wear many hats, as they “have become connectors and comforters-in-chief — not just to students but to parents and school staff.”

With individual and group counseling, these professionals are equipped to tackle most of the common issues that adolescents and teens face during their school years. Here are some of the main responsibilities of school counselors:

Academic Future

School counselors do play a pivotal role in aiding students in the process of entering higher education. They help pupils understand the career choices available to them, choose high school courses that will better prepare them to enter the college of their choice, and even support them with individualized attention to their portfolios, interviews, resumes and standardized tests. They serve as a bridge between secondary and tertiary education.

School counselors are also responsible for keeping an eye on the students who are not keeping pace with their peers. Counselors understand the importance of remediating academic concerns as soon as possible to provide alternatives to simply dropping out of school.

Family Life

Some students do not perform at their best because of something happening at home. Dysfunctional or abusive family dynamics, divorce or the death of a loved one can be too much for a young person to handle without adult intervention. Although not therapists, school counselors may evaluate the situation if a student in distress approaches them. Amanda Ronan adds, “In these cases, a school counselor needs to assess how much care the student needs. They may just need a sounding board, or a school counselor may need to refer the child to a therapist who can help.”

Mental Health

One of the main issues affecting the student population is bullying. According to research, “About 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide.” Many victims of bullying experience anxiety and depression and may become violent themselves. As suicide rates among teens are on the rise, school counselors must identify early on children who might be at risk of suffering from mental health issues. Creating a safe space within a counseling session may be just what a student needs to help cope with a bad high school experience.

Although we tend to focus on the victims, the bully’s actions may also be symptomatic of other psychological issues. Bullies “are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, get into fights, and drop out of school.” The best solution for this kind of behavior is finding healthy alternatives. By suggesting extra-curricular activities in the arts or sports, a counselor can help students make the first step towards healthier behavior.

Unfortunately, many interactions between children, even from the early grades, happen over social media. Because it may be difficult for counselors to intervene actively, it is important to teach students useful tools and strategies they need to cope independently.

In the Time of a Pandemic…

Students spent a good deal of time at home in 2020, as they sheltered-in-place and learned remotely. As a result, counselors had to find new ways to connect with their students. In addition to giving college selection advice and tracking academic and emotional progress, they have “responded to requests from teachers to find out why students weren’t showing up for online class (and then worked to resolve whatever the barrier was); reassured stressed-out parents; … made mental health referrals for students in crisis; and provided moral support to teachers, administrators and each other.”

This job is not easy, and as an ever-adaptable professional, the best school counselor is the one who is well-prepared to deal with every new situation that may appear.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s Master of Science in Education in School Counseling – Special Populations Concentration Online.


Counseling Today: School counseling in the time of the coronavirus

Stop Facts About Bullying School Counselors Commonly Offer Support for these Five Student Issues

Request Information

Submit the form below, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 866-621-8096

Ready to go?

Start your application today!
Or call 866-621-8096 866-621-8096
for help with any questions you have.
  • Choose All That Apply