School counselors who use technology to their advantage have more time and ability to connect with their students. Rather than taking away from the time they have for face to face contact, staying digitally connected and using digital tools makes that time more meaningful.
There are many ways technology can help counselors save time and money, and better fulfill their responsibilities, including reaching out to students, educators, and parents. Here are five ways technology supports school counselors.
One of the ways counselors fulfill the duty of fostering positive academic and career development in students is by administering soft skills testing to determine placement and aptitude. There are many digital guidance services that offer a way for students to take these tests online and provide results to counselors, who can then take informed action on them.
A number of career aptitude tests are available. They focus on several skill sets, including numeric, verbal, nonverbal, mechanical, and other miscellaneous skills. These can be used in a couple of different ways.
Tests like The Complete Aptitude Test help a student who has no idea what area they are strongest in make that determination. Still others offer tests in specific areas, often used to determine if a student is truly suited for a career area they have showed interest in.3
4. College Planning
Not only do grades matter, but the courses students choose to take in high school can affect whether or not they will get into their dream college. Not only do most colleges have their entrance requirements on their websites, but they have been curated by sites such as College Search Engine.
On these sites, counselors and students can research application fees, entrance requirements including test scores and GPA, and applying for scholarships and financial aid. This technology allows students to learn about colleges on their own terms, and for counselors to be more informed when guiding students decisions.1
3. Social Media
Social media offers dedicated hashtags like #scchat a hashtag that is used to interact with other counselors and discuss specific issues and common questions. But social media offers more than just networking and professional development.
While counselors are discouraged from interacting with students through their personal Twitter and Facebook profiles, Facebook pages can be utilized to list events and upcoming seminars and even highlight services offered to students.
Social media can be used to identify and correct cyber bullying and other issues school counselors work through, keep parents and students informed of school activities and events through groups and pages, and to broadcast school news like closures, early release days, and athletic activities and practices.2
2. Going Mobile
Counselors can use a tablet or even their phones for recording notes when they visit classrooms or have sessions with students. These notes can be easily saved for later use.
Mobile devices can also be used to access information, gather student answers to surveys, and countless other applications on the go. “School counselors are having daily discussions and sharing resources without the barriers of space, pace, or time,” Russell Sabella, a professor of counseling says. “I see technology as a way for us to achieve and accomplish and succeed.”4
Many counselors and school districts use texting apps to let students and parents know what is happening in a variety of areas. From snow days to scholarship application deadlines to test dates for SATs and ACT tests, text is a great way to issue reminders and send announcements.
Many counselors have taken to blogs as a way to not only share what they are doing and dealing with on a daily basis, but instructional videos, useful apps, how-to tips and summaries of professional articles.
Andrea Burston, a counselor at JY Joyner Magnet Elementary in Raleigh, NC has even created her own Wiki page called ‘iPads for School Counselors’ where she lists useful apps, web links, counselor blogs to follow, and more.4
By using available technology for testing, college planning, social media, and a website or blog counselors can stay nimble and more connected with parents, students, and their peers. This is especially true if they use technology to go mobile. Programs, apps, and tablets support school counselors as they apply the skills they have learned in graduate counseling programs such as the one offered at Wake Forest University.