Who assists students on their journey to and through college and career, and how can they work together to build better systems of support?
Counselors & College Access Organizations
Counselors and college access organizations (CAOs) provide college advising and logistical support to young people at various points in their educational journey, often working in place-based settings, including K-12 schools, community-based organizations, and institutions of higher education. But counselors are commonly stretched thin — the average caseload among school counselors has improved in the past three decades, but remains high at 430 students per counselor, a ratio that is even higher in many low-income communities. School counselors don’t have enough time or resources to make sure all their students are on track. Moreover, since the pandemic, these adults have shifted their focus to triaging the immediate needs of young people, such as mental health crises or lack of access to food.
“This morning I was on a phone call with a counselor. She's a star — she knows every kid, she is high energy, and she's been a counselor for 25 years. She said, ‘This is a year like no other.’” —Leader, college access organization, Mississippi Delta
- Insufficient time due to high caseloads and/or expanding job descriptions.
- Limited access to data about how their students are performing in real time.
- Generic resources that do not easily adapt to individual student needs.
- Form holistic relationships with students that go beyond college logistics and create space for students to share a wide range of concerns.
- Tailor supports to meet students’ individual needs.
- Bring students’ family members into the conversation about attending and affording college earlier and more frequently than many programs currently do.
- Elevate student stories and data about their postsecondary experiences and needs to school/institution leaders, funders/intermediaries, and policymakers.