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Selection of school counselor candidates: future directions at two universities. (Counselor Preparation).

A new vision of school counseling asserts that counselors must address all children and must orient counseling services toward the primary mission of schools: to educate young people and to support their healthy development. Two universities that are working to prepare new vision school counselors have changed their recruitment and selection procedures to attract increased numbers of candidates who can be optimally trained to fulfill the requirements of this vision. The authors describe criteria and procedures used to select graduate students who have the greatest promise of becoming leaders, advocates, and change agents in schools to promote student learning and achievement.


Recent efforts to bring school counselors into the mainstream of educational reform have included the proposals that future school counselors become leaders of initiatives to improve teaching and learning and that they serve as advocates for equal opportunity and access to a quality education for all students (Capuzzi & Gross, 1998; House & Martin, 1998). The educational reform agenda focuses on the implementation of standards and world-class benchmarks across the curricula (Eisner, 1995; Howe, 1991; Meier, 2000; Wiggins, 1991). The intent of educational reform is to raise expectations so that all students will be able to compete in a global economy (Alexander, 1993; American School Counselor Association, 1994; Darling-Hammond, 1992). Advocacy and equity issues must be addressed, or large numbers of students will continue to be left behind without the technical and learning skills needed to be productive citizens in the world of tomorrow (Arnstine, 1992; Astin & Astin, 2000; Flood & Lapp, 1993; Shanker, 1992; Smith, 1992; William T. Grant Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship, 1988). How do school counselors fit into the educational reform agenda to support student achievement and to prepare all students to be productive and contributing members of society?

Preparation for school counselors typically has been directed toward addressing the needs of emotionally or behaviorally troubled school children, a model that serves a small percentage of students with the aim of assisting them to obtain an education (College Entrance Examination Board, 1986; Hart & Jacobi, 1992; Kaplan, 2000). These efforts often lack the systematic evaluation that demonstrates the learning and achievement gains such students make as a result of the help they receive (Gerler, 1992; Hughes, Gysbers, & Starr, 1993; Schmidt, 1995; Wittmer, 2000). With this model, the majority of students receive little attention, with perhaps the exception of minimal career counseling and brief academic advisement (Boyer, 1988; Scruggs, Wasielewski, & Ash, 1999). Although this new vision is not uniformly accepted among school counseling professionals (Guerra, 1998, 1999), professionals who hold this philosophy assert that counselors must address all children and must orient counseling services toward the primary mission of schools, which is to educate young people and to prepare them for the challenges of this century (Hart & Jacobi, 1992; House & Martin, 1998; National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the American Council on Education, 1989; Staley & Carey, 1997; Welch & McCarroll, 1993).

In 1998, 10 universities were supported with a planning grant, given by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation (DWRD) and managed by The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization, to demonstrate how university school counseling preparation programs can better prepare school counselors to have an impact on the academic achievement of all students. Six of the 10 universities were further supported with 3-year grants that allowed them to partner with their local school districts to transform the universities' school counseling preparation programs to align with schools, that is, learning and achievement (House & Martin, 1998; Sears, 1999). In this new vision, counselors are seen as key to removing barriers to learning and achievement and as key to promoting success among the children who are often relegated to low expectations and limited educational outcomes--that is, poor and minority children (Fullan, 1993; Hayes, Dagley, &Horne, 1996; House & Martin, 1998; Kaplan, 2000; Orfield & Paul, 1994; Stone, 1998). An integrated approach to school counseling envisions counselors as agents of school and community change for the improvement of education, achievement, and success. In this model, future counselors are encouraged to be leaders and coordinators of collaborative efforts between school personnel, parents, and community to build the supports that all students need to achieve at high levels (Bemak, 2000; Campbell & Dahir, 1997; Clark & Stone, 2000; House & Martin, 1998).

Counselor educators from approximately 35 universities and representatives from their partnership school districts from across the United States met in July 2000 to discuss changing their school counselor preparation programs in accordance with this new vision (The Education Trust, 2000). For a core group of 12 universities, this meeting was their 3rd or 4th consecutive year of collaborating to identify needed changes. Changes under scrutiny included the development of a program mission statement to drive the entire change process, a process that included collaboration with school districts and communities to develop new curriculum, teaching methods, field experiences, and a more focused recruitment and selection of candidates (The Education Trust, 2000; House & Martin, 1998; Sears, 1999). Although these universities and their partnership school districts were struggling to find a voice for school counselors in educational reform, other counseling professionals believed the movement was taking counselors too far away from addressing the emotional needs of students and was, therefore, compromising individual counseling (Crespi, Fischetti, & Butler, 2001). The discussion continues among professionals about the mission of school counselors as leaders, change agents, and advocates (Bemak & Hanna, 1998; Erickson, 1997; Jackson, Boes, Burnham, & Comas, 2000; Lee, 1997, 1998; Stone & Turba, 1999).

The University of North Florida (UNF) and California State University, Northridge (CSUN), two of the original six universities involved in the DWRD project and universities that are working to prepare new vision school counselors, have changed their recruitment and selection procedures to attract candidates who can be optimally trained to fulfill this vision. What qualities and skills do counselor candidates require to fulfill this vision, and how can they be identified and selected? These universities are working collaboratively with their local school districts to change school counselor preparation programs in line with the new vision. In this article, we describe criteria and procedures that the two universities use to select graduate students with the greatest promise of becoming leaders, advocates, and change agents in schools to promote student learning and achievement. We have also included results that show how the candidates and the members of the selection team evaluated the selection procedures.

Mission-Driven Selection

The selection of students for new vision programs in school counseling began with program mission statements. Each university organized a team of university faculty, school personnel, community members, and parents to develop a mission statement that would shape the initiative. Teams examined the current status of school counseling and were exposed to the new ideas for school counseling that have been proposed in the imperatives for educational reform. Collaboratively, teams wrote mission statements that reflected their collective concerns and vision for reform in school counseling. This process was a first for both the university programs and for the local schools. School and community members were excited to work with university faculty in an effort to change both the university school counseling preparation program in school counseling and school counseling programs in their schools. The energy, enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge that these groups provided resulted in comprehensive statements of mission and purpose that set the course for a new direction for preparation in school counseling (see Appendix for the UNF mission statement).

Selection Criteria

Central to the mission statements of both universities was an emphasis on student learning and achievement. School counseling programs require accountability in these areas if they are to align with the educational mission of schools and to be vital to schools and communities. This represents a shift in thinking about the ultimate purpose and focus of counseling in schools--a shift that has important implications for the selection and identification of graduate students for school counseling programs.

The mission statements of UNF and CSUN identified advocacy and social justice as critical to a new direction in school counseling and counselor programs. Counselors are often gatekeepers of student success by determining curriculum opportunities. They can influence school staff and student beliefs and attitudes about the learning ability of minority and children of low socioeconomic status. Counselors should help to increase access to and success in a rigorous academic program for all students. Counselors must understand how inequality exists in schools and must work to remove barriers to learning and educational success. Counselor candidates' willingness to challenge the status quo, their critical thinking ability in the social domain, and their eagerness to be proactive in the promotion of student academic achievement form a core of attitudes, thinking, and behavior that is fundamental to the training of new vision school counselors. The UNF and CSUN selection programs highlighted these qualities as necessary for new applicants to their programs and developed selection procedures that were intended to help identify these qualities in applicants. Both UNF and CSUN used the intentional recruitment and selection procedures, with each university varying the procedures somewhat, that are described in the following sections of this article.


In 1998, the UNF and CSUN programs initiated extensive outreach recruitment efforts for the first time to find applicants with the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed to match their new vision programs. Materials such as posters and brochures describing the programs were developed and distributed around the campuses and school communities. School personnel were asked to identify school and community members with desirable qualities and to encourage their application to the program. Nomination forms requesting the names of teachers with the personal qualities needed to be a new vision school counselor were developed and distributed to principals and counselors in the surrounding areas. Each year, for the 2 years of these recruitment efforts, more than 200 potential candidates expressed an interest in the program at each university. Nominees were sent invitations to attend informational meetings where they were given an overview of the reforms that had been initiated by each university and details on the curriculum and admissions procedures. Targeted for extensive outreach efforts were undergraduate students who were enrolled in psychology and education classes and in the equity-based department courses on each campus, such as Pan African Studies and Chicano Studies. At one site, the local media cooperated by recruiting school counseling candidates on the nightly news for a week and accompanying the recruitment with a phone bank that allowed counselors and university faculty to provide information to potential applicants.

These proactive recruitment efforts yielded larger and more diverse pools of applicants to these programs than had been the case in prior years. In 1999, both UNF and CSUN increased their applicant pool, 68% and 60% respectively, from the previous year. More important, the recruitment efforts in the school counseling programs at both universities significantly increased the number of male and minority students. Of the students enrolled for 1999-2000 at UNF, 38% were men or minorities, or both, and for 2000-2001, 33% of the students were men or minorities, or both. The 1999-2000 figure for CSUN was 66% men or minorities, or both, and this figure increased to 71% for 2000-2001. The data indicate that active recruitment for school counselors that focuses on promoting educational equity and social justice attracts not only significant numbers of people who are interested in furthering that vision but also strong minority applicants who relate to underrepresented cultural groups and who can serve as models of achievement and success.

Selection Procedures

Selection Teams

Selection of students became a collaborative effort among the universities, school districts, and communities. School counselors, administrators, teachers, parent center directors, parents, and advanced graduate students joined university faculty and academic advisers at both UNF and CSUN to make up a 20-member selection team. Selection team members partnered with another member of the selection team and tackled their first task of reviewing and rating the written application portfolios.

After the selection team had screened the paper applications, they began in-person screening of the applicants. The in-person screening included individual and group interviews and a 4-minute public speech on an advocacy issue by each candidate. Selection team members filled out a weighted matrix system, using scales that outlined specific criteria and quantified each area of the application portfolio, and rated each candidate's performance in the individual and group interviews and in the speech. The selection team gave the candidate an overall candidate rating and an overall rating for acceptance into the program.

The Application Portfolio

An application portfolio for prospective applicants was developed by the selection teams. All applicants responded to the same portfolio requirements, which included the following: (a) an application/ information form; (b) a 500-word personal goal statement; (c) three letters of recommendation that focused on the candidate's past advocacy and leadership behavior; (d) a signed statement of informed consent that described the mission of the program and the commitment required to complete the program; (e) information about academic ability, such as scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller's Analogy Test and grade point averages (GPAs) from undergraduate official transcripts; and (fl written responses to a school equity scenario or a journal article about advocacy and achievement in America. The complete UNF application can be found at and the CSUN application is at

Individual and Group Interviews

Focused individual interviews were conducted by teams and addressed a range of topic areas, including the following: leadership experience and personal leadership qualities, experience in overcoming obstacles to one's own or others' success, cross-cultural experience, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, flexibility, ideas about how schools could do a better job of helping all students learn, and experiences handling frustration and demonstrated resilience.

Group interviews were designed to evaluate the applicant's ability to function on a small-group task because new vision counselors are expected to collaborate with teams of school and community stakeholders. The small-group interview was designed to assess an applicant's ability to work in groups and to take significant roles as a collaborative participant and leader. The group was asked to form a team response to a common school problem, such as the following example:
   A talented Latina student shows an interest in college, but her mother
   comes to you and expresses her concern that the family does not have money
   for a college education and that she needs her daughter to get a job after

The school counseling applicants were asked to brainstorm ideas for addressing the challenges presented in the scenario and to agree on action steps. Applicants were evaluated on the ability (a) to focus on a given task; (b) to function as a team member, including the ability to invite comments, listen to others, and respond in a nonjudgmental way; (c) to express oneself and to offer useful information about the task presented; and (d) to summarize the group's progress and to suggest a course of action.

Written Responses

Applicants were asked to write the following four assignments: (a) a 500-word goal statement; (b) a reaction paper to Hilliard's (1991) article, "Do We Have a Will to Educate All Students"; (c) an impromptu writing assignment; and (d) steps the candidate would take to address a scenario that describes a school situation in which opportunities are being adversely stratified for students.

The goal statement was intended to garner a sense of the candidate's understanding of the role of the new vision counselor and the rationale for choosing the school counseling profession. Asking the applicants to react to the journal article and to the equity scenario was an attempt to determine a candidate's critical thinking ability and social/personal consciousness. The impromptu writing was designed to ensure an accurate assessment of writing ability--a skill that is requisite for the school counselor but a skill that had not been assessed in earlier years.


Applicants also gave a 4-minute speech in front of the selection team. The speech focused on the educational gap between minority/poor children and their more affluent peers. Applicants were given national data on the achievement gap and asked to talk about how this information would influence their future work as a school counselor.

Selection Results

The first 2 years that the new procedures had been used, academic years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, UNF had 55 and 53 completed applications, respectively, and CSUN had 57 and 56, respectively. The completed applications were read and carefully rated, and the majority of applicants were invited for the second, in-person screening phase (UNF invited 52 and 47, respectively, for years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, and CSUN invited 51 both years). After the completion of the selection process, UNF admitted 24 and 33 students for the academic years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, respectively, and CSUN admitted 25 and 24, respectively, for those years. The recruitment and selection procedures yielded a significant increase in the number of applicants applying to each institution's program (over a 50% increase) as well as the number of students admitted.

Applicants Evaluate the Process

All selection team members and applicants were provided with a form to evaluate the selection procedures after the conclusion of the process. Following are four of the eight questions asked and a brief summary of the applicants' responses.

1. What did you like about the selection interview process? What do you think was good, strong, and/or important to the process? Please explain. Overwhelmingly, applicants thought the selection process was fair, objective, professional, and thorough. The process was viewed as allowing each candidate to "shine" and to have an equal chance of being selected. Touted as a strong asset of the process was the number of individuals, especially practicing school counselors, involved in the selection process. Furthermore, applicants expressed appreciation for the number of methods of assessment used, such as written responses, speeches, interviews, and evidence of academic ability such as GRE scores and GPAs. Applicants thought the variety of methods increased their opportunities to have their strengths balance out their weaknesses.

Applicants requested that the speeches be continued as a critical part of the selection process: "I learned quite a lot about the philosophy of the program from listening to the other speeches" and "The public speech made us reveal our determination and our enthusiasm of the undertaking."

The interview was considered by many applicants to be the single' most critical element of the process for identifying qualified candidates, as summarized best by this applicant.
   We were interviewed by counselors who are already in the field of guidance
   counseling. They were able to ask each candidate strong questions to
   indicate whether or not each person would be a good candidate for the
   program. I think for a program of this nature it is important to talk
   one-on-one with the applicants. I think it is through this personal contact
   that you can really begin to be selective as to who is right for the

2. What didn't you like about the selection interview process? What did you think was weak or unnecessary? Please explain. The written portion of the application portfolio drew the most comment. This candidate summed up the various concerns expressed by applicants.
   I felt that the lengthy effort of the portfolio preparation could have been
   condensed. Those not selected had to do a considerable amount of work which
   involved time and effort that was not rewarded. Applicants could have
   enlisted help in portfolio preparation.

3. What were your fears/apprehensions about the selection interview process? Were these fears confirmed or changed in any way through the course of the selection interview procedures? The overriding theme that emerged was apprehension in matching the criteria for acceptance into the program. Specifically mentioned were the GRE scores, the interview, and the requirement to deliver a speech. Three students' responses aptly summed up the sentiments of the other applicants.
   I had not given a speech in years and I was afraid I had lost my touch.
   This was unfounded. Despite my hands shaking a bit, the event went rather
   well. I was afraid of not giving a stellar performance. I learned that
   doing my best was just fine.

      I was fearful about how in-depth the selection process was and how few
   of us would get in.

      My GRE score is weak and I am afraid it will keep me out of the program
   even though I did a great job on all the other aspects of the selection

4. What was your impression of the school counseling program to which you were aspiring based on the overall selection procedures? Applicants thought they were applying to a very selective preparation program that demanded commitment to the counseling profession and rigor in preparation for the profession, as expressed in the following statements by applicants.
   I believe that this program is ambitious and the university is being
   rightly selective of the applicants. The procedure is rigorous and a little
   intimidating. Completion of the application is itself a demonstration of
   one's commitment to pursuing school counseling.

      The process of getting in was so long and required so much work it made
   me believe that the program was very good.

      The selection procedures helped reassure me that the program would be
   positive, progressive, and focused on real world application rather than
   excessive theory.

      It seems like it's a selective, serious program. I wouldn't want to be
   involved if I didn't think it would be a strenuous, challenging program.

Selection Team Members Evaluate the Process

Selection team members commented most often about the speech in their evaluations and pointed out repeatedly that they considered the speech very revealing.
   These speeches were the most informative part of the selection process. It
   was interesting to see how many different ways applicants viewed one source
   of data provided. I got the impression that many candidates realize the
   problems we face in our schools.

Overall, selection team members at both universities viewed the selection process very favorably. Members thought the process was comprehensive and provided a good representation of applicants' potential ability as graduate students and school counselors. When asked to identify changes that should be made, the consensus was to keep all the procedures as they are currently being implemented.

Reducing Bias in Selection

In the past, these two universities relied heavily on the GRE as an indicator of an individual's potential for success as a student and as a future counselor. This narrowly focused approach was biased in favor of applicants who were skilled at taking standardized tests and left little room to consider other personal strengths and characteristics of the applicant. The new selection procedures reduce bias in the following ways: (a) Selection team members approach the task seriously, and because the total team makes the final decision, there are more than 15 voices determining an applicant's status; (b) multiple indicators are used, and four or five selection team members can speak with knowledge about each applicant because of having read their portfolio, interviewed them, or listened to their speech; (c) a candidate is rejected by selection team members only when the decision is unanimous or very decisive; and (d) applicants are rarely rejected outright because selection team members instruct university staff to offer applicants ways to improve their application and an opportunity to reapply for the next cohort. Although these selection procedures are imperfect, applicants strongly indicated that they believed the varied approach gave each of them an equal opportunity to be chosen.

Qualities and Characteristics of New Counselor Applicants

The philosophy of these two universities and of the school district and community collaborators of their programs leans pointedly toward preparing school counselor candidates for advocacy and leadership in supporting the academic achievement of all students. Therefore, students who enter the preparation program at these two universities need certain skills and a penchant for advocacy and social justice. Following are the most critical personal and social consciousness skills needed by the student in these two programs and the selection procedures used to identify these skills.

Attitudes Regarding Educational Equity and Social Justice

With an emphasis on social justice and educational equity and high expectations for learning and achievement for all, selection teams valued applicants who had an understanding of inequality and a vision of how education can be equal, particularly for minority and poor students. Socially active counselors feel compelled to be active in working to eradicate systems and ideologies that perpetuate discrimination and that disregard human rights. Selection team members gave a high rating to applicants if they were committed to social justice and were willing to advocate for the learning success of all students. Applicants with a strong commitment to social justice were considered more likely to identify inequity and to work for change and equal opportunity and to offer the kind of support that all students need for success in learning and for achievement at high levels.

Applicants demonstrated an awareness of equity issues and social advocacy by delivering a speech that called for a personal response to data showing the achievement gap in America; writing responses to real-life scenarios depicting potential inequities; reacting to Hilliard's (1991) article, "Do We Have a Will to Educate All Children"; and answering focused interview questions. Examples follow that demonstrate the differences in responses from individuals who understand social advocacy and individuals who are less aware of why and how school counselors should exercise advocacy for students. For example, applicants who are less aware of how school counselors can exercise advocacy always talk in terms of how the student and his or her family are the problem and never mention how schools can have an impact on student achievement. However, applicants who are more aware of social issues give examples of how the educational system can better serve those students who have been traditionally underserved. In advance of the selection day, students were given a graph that showed that more White students than minority students were enrolled in higher level academics and the achievement gap that existed between minorities and Whites. Without further directions, the applicants were asked to prepare and deliver a 4-minute speech about the implications of this data for their future work as a counselor. Desired responses emphasized shoring up and supporting all students to be successful, removing institutional barriers that hinder students' access and success in higher level academics, and proposing ideas for helping students to succeed academically. Applicants whose responses favored the stratification of opportunities raised caution. For example, one applicant expressed support for tracking, "Some children can't achieve and never will achieve" mad "We need garbage men" as opposed to the candidate who talked about widening opportunities for students in rigorous course work and "supporting them with safety nets." No single selection tool, such as the speech, would be enough to eliminate a candidate, but two or more indicators would cause concern and closer scrutiny by selection team members.


Leadership has increasingly become a valued and shared phenomenon in schools directed toward improvement in teaching and learning. In this context, reform voices in school counseling are calling for a shift in role from service provider to leader and change agent (House & Martin, 1998). Counselors need to be proactive in identifying needs, ameliorating problems, planning and organizing supportive and preventive interventions, evaluating outcomes, and facilitating results-based change. Counselors are usually viewed as gatekeepers to educational success and high achievement (Hart & Jacobi, 1992). They ensure that students receive the support they need to learn and to succeed. To implement this program, counselors will be required to serve as leaders of programs that also include the participation of parents and community service providers.

To identify leadership skills, applicants to the programs at both universities were asked throughout the selection process to describe their leadership experiences and their strengths that would be useful in a leadership capacity. Application questions included requests for descriptions of leadership experience, together with an analysis of personal leadership skills. Letters of recommendation asked pointed questions about applicants' potential for leadership or for a demonstration of leadership. For example, four questions asked raters to give evidence of the applicant's ability to be a leader, accept diversity in others, collaborate, and manage time.

The individual interviews further explored applicants' knowledge about leadership, along with personal reflections on leadership style and skill. For example, one interview question asked, "How would you respond if your guidance department chairman determined that the counselors would not advertise the criteria for a scholarship even though the scholarship would be obtainable for all students who take certain courses and maintain a B average?" Selection team members evaluated each candidate in terms of his or her potential leadership in addressing this inequity. For both universities, leadership weighed heavily in decisions to accept applicants into the program.

Collaboration and Team-Building Skills

Reform efforts have strengthened the conviction among educators that collaboration is needed to combine the best that school personnel and parents have to contribute toward helping students learn (Allen, 1998; Clark & Stone, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 1988; Dimock, 1993; Lambie, 2000). School counselors are uniquely positioned to engage in collaborative efforts with all school stakeholders, including the students, parents, school administrators, staff, teachers, and the agencies and institutions external to the school. Seeking to extend their outreach for support, counselors will need to identify resources both within and outside their schools to assist them in bringing support services to all students.

School counseling candidates must, therefore, demonstrate an orientation toward collaboration and basic skills for working in groups. Selection teams examined these factors primarily through the group interview. Selection team members rated applicants highly who commented on the process and progress of the group, invited the ideas of others, listened well, offered direction for the group, and summarized the group's progress.

Implications Future Evaluation Efforts

Does the selection procedure and the preservice training translate to school counselors who are leaders, advocates, and change agents and do these new vision counselors have an impact on academic success for the students they serve? These questions demand answers, and two longitudinal studies are in progress to try to assess the impact of new vision counselors. In the first study, baseline data are being gathered on school counseling students during their first week in the program (two cohorts of new vision students have responded). The information that has been collected includes students' understanding of schools, their personal/social consciousness, past leadership and advocacy behavior, and their beliefs about the intersection of learners and school counselors. A parallel survey will be done at various stages of the graduates' careers to determine their role and function in their schools at the time of each survey. The results of these surveys will then allow researchers to determine if the selection process and subsequent preparation are having a positive impact on the practice of school counseling, as had been envisioned in the original concept of new vision counselors. In other words, are these newly minted counselors working in the traditional way or in a new vision way that focuses on the academic achievement of all students?

A second study is underway in which baseline data have been gathered to assess the impact that new vision counselors are having on the students and school communities they are serving. At the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year, information was gathered on all elementary students in three schools in Jacksonville, Florida, regarding their attendance, grades, test results, and disciplinary referrals. The new vision school counselors of these three schools are assuming a leadership role in a collaborative school counseling program that pointedly focuses on improvement in areas that affect academic achievement. The intent is to show that their guidance programs can be part of a schoolwide effort to influence student success in their schools. The evaluation piece in this second study will examine the data elements (e.g., attendance, retentions, discipline referrals) that the counselor had chosen to contribute toward improving students' outcomes to see if positive change had occurred. The evaluation question to be answered is, "By serving as part of the school leadership team, are school counselors able to contribute toward improvement in the goals established for the school and for their guidance program?"


The future direction for school counseling will be to align with the academic goals of the school and to provide a counseling program whose outcomes are in line with learning and achievement. The school counselor of the future will be called on to assume an advocacy and leadership role to support access to and success in rigorous academics for all students. Counselor preparation models have typically been directed toward addressing the needs of a small percentage of students with behavioral or emotional problems. A largely unspoken question is whether students with behavioral or emotional problems have benefited from the help that they have received from counselors (Hughes et al., 1993; Schmidt, 1995; Wittmer, 2000). The majority of students are given little attention, with perhaps the exception of minimal career counseling and brief academic advisement (Scruggs et al., 1999).

Future counselors will need to be prepared to be agents of change and leaders and coordinators of collaborative efforts between schools and communities to build the support that all students need to achieve at high levels. Counselors must understand how inequality exists in schools and work to remove institutional and environmental barriers to learning and achieving. Therefore, as changes in preparation programs for counselors more closely align with the mission of schools, parallel changes are needed in the recruitment and selection of school counseling candidates who can be intricately involved in the academic success of students. Focused recruiting and selection criteria must attract and select candidates who have the best chance to successfully challenge the status quo, who have critical thinking ability in the social domain, and who are eager to be proactive in the promotion of student academic achievement. The UNF and CSUN selection programs emphasized these qualities as necessary for new applicants to their programs.


The Mission Statement for School Counseling Track of the University of North Florida

The University of North Florida's school counseling program is embedded in a university and college committed to K-12 school district partnerships for educational reform. The School counseling track focuses on preparing counselors to meet the academic, emotional, and social needs of culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. Special emphasis is placed upon knowledge bases and internship experiences that prepare school counselors to contextualize their competencies in cultural, family, and urban community settings where low-income and minority students have been least well served.

The UNF School Counseling Track will prepare school counselors to positively impact the learning of K-12 students by serving as advocates, educational leaders, team members, counselors, and consultants to maximize opportunities for students to succeed academically.

Specifically, school counseling candidates will learn to

* understand and apply aggregated and disaggregated student information to develop a data driven guidance program based on the unique needs of their school;

* develop in students a commitment to achievement and provide conditions that enable students to accomplish their goals;

* help students with educational planning, career development, and the use of specific information such as labor market trends to facilitate understanding of the interrelationship between academic achievement and future opportunities;

* become proficient in staff development for teachers and parents in critical areas such as student motivation, learning styles, and school improvement plans;

* serve as leaders and steward of equity and achievement efforts and be able to identify and address institutional and environmental barriers impeding student's progress;

* become managers of resources and partnership builders, enlisting the support of parents, agencies, and community members; and

* act as counselors and consultants to help provide an emotionally and physically safe environment so that all students can concentrate on academic achievement.


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Carolyn B. Stone is an associate professor in the Division of Educational Services and Research in Counselor Education at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville. Charles Hanson is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at the California State University, Northridge. Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to Carolyn B. Stone, College of Education and Human Services, University of North Florida, 4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South, Jacksonville, FL 32224 (e-mail:
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Author:Stone, Carolyn B.; Hanson, Charles
Publication:Counselor Education and Supervision
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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