Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017: The Year in Review

By:  Patrick O'Connor Ph.D

Ten interesting things happen in every school counselor’s office before 9AM, so it’s hard identifying the most interesting ten to happen in the profession all year—but here’s my attempt:

10 Department of ED Appoints First School Counselor Ambassador The ten-year Ambassador program let its first counselor into its ranks this year. While it happens to be me, the larger point is that counselors now have a voice closer to policy making decisions in Washington—and the portal for applying for next year is already open.

Counselor Professional Development Takes a Turn It’s only one state, but Michigan’s new law requiring counselors to get regular updates on college and career counselingis the first in the nation, and is getting the attention of other states already.

Higher Ed Reauthorization The House has decided to take the routine task of renewing higher ed funding to a new level this year, proposing major changes to student aid and other programs. Will they survive the bill making process?

FAFSA Verification Up Chronicle Reporter Eric Hoover had a banner year, writing stellar pieces on the challenges of helping low-income students apply to college. His piece on the challenges low-income students face of verifying FAFSA claims gives everyone much to consider.

FAFSA on an App Come Spring Some counselors think students can’t apply for financial aid on a phone. Come spring, students will have the chance to prove them wrong, and do so.

Testing Companies Increase Free Test Reporting Largely in response to the self-reporting test score movement, College Board and ACT announced late-year changes to policies, where students who take the test for free can send score reports for free.

Colleges Increase Self-Reporting Grades High school transcripts usually don’t cost anything to send, but this change means a simpler application process that puts the focus back on the student.

Student Mental Health Issues on the Rise Two long-standing student issues caught the media’s attention this year, including a focus on student stress that had to do with something more than applying to college. Everything from student discipline to classroom management is up for grabs, as students and families look for calm.

Policy Makers Discover Opiate Crisis Counselors have also known for years about the devastating effect opiates have on students, schools, and communities. This monster is now on the radar of state and federal policymakers; look for lawsuits, block grants, and more in 2018.

1 Colleges Increase Self-Reporting Test Scores Places like the UC system have done this for years, but more colleges jumped on the idea that all students can report their own test scores for free, then pay for one official set to be sent once they matriculate somewhere. This increases access, decreases cost, and puts the student in the driver’s seat of more of their application process. That’s a triple win.

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