Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Free Counseling Resource That Beats a Pot of Gold

Patrick J. O'Connor, Ph.D.

One of the biggest tasks faced by school counselors is finding the time to develop their counseling curriculum.  Between meeting urgent needs of students and tending to administration-assigned tasks that have little to do with counseling, the idea of “free time” during the day is more ancient than the typewriter, and the follow-up calls and e-mails that keep most counselors in the building long after most teachers have gone home leave little time after school for anything but rest, recovery, and re-energizing for the next day.

It’s understandable why the counseling curriculum can easily take a back seat to more pressing daily needs, but the development, evaluation, and modification of curriculum is an important step in any counseling office.  Not only does curriculum development provide a reliable structure of services families and students count on; it also reminds community members—including classroom teachers—that counseling has a specific set of goals, tools, and methods of evaluation, just like any other department in the school.

When it comes to development of college counseling curriculum, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) can help fill the void between the goal of having a curriculum and the reality of having no time to develop one.  The Families, Counselors and Communities Together (FCCT) program represents 27 years of research and practice in guiding families through the entire college admission process, from the important first steps of college awareness, through visiting college campuses, completing applications, making a decision on which college to attend, and the ever-important awareness of how to pay for college and make college affordable.

Many are surprised that FCCT also addresses the important issue of college readiness.  While this topic may be new to some, NACAC has always realized that it is not enough for a student to be admitted to college; a high school student must develop the study skills, discipline, and goal setting strategies needed to complete the college experience with a certificate, diploma, or degree.

College readiness skills are an integral part of FCCT, making it an ideal curriculum for schools that have a large number of families where the student would be the first in the family to go to college.  At the same time, FCCT is presented in a way where families more aware of the college selection process can reaffirm their understanding of the basics of the process and broaden their appreciation for all the college options that exist.

Counselors interested in FCCT will be happy to know NACAC also provides Power Point presentations in English and Spanish that are ready to present to any audience.  In addition, NACAC offers a series of workshops called Guiding the Way to Higher Education designed for families with students in grades 7-8, 9-11, and 11-12.  The program for middle school students is especially important, since it raises awareness about college in a way that provides information without advocating for a specific college, or putting stress on the student.

If this resource wasn’t enough, budget- conscious counselors (and let’s face it, that’s all of us) will be happy to know that all of these tools are free.  FCCT can be printed to your home or office computer and the slide shows can be downloaded to your computer, all without charge.  Just visit; if that doesn’t work, go to<>, and use the search box to find FCCT.

It’s tough finding time and money to develop college counseling curriculum, but NACAC saves the day by providing a time-tested program for grades 7-12, all for free. That’s not just the luck of the Irish—it’s a blessing for all.

1 comment:

  1. This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want...hmm). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that's been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!