Is Guidance Sufficient at MHS?

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According to the Citizens for Quality Education, a Metuchen school watchdog group dedicated to promoting public education, in Metuchen High School, there are over 650 students serviced by 2 guidance counselors and a Director of Guidance. The counselors carry nearly 300 students and the Director carries 100 in addition to her other responsibilities. The average I District (District Factor Group - a socioeconomic ranking) in NJ has a counselor/student ration of 1/150. 1/100 is the ideal ratio recommended by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Yet, the NACAC reported the average public school guidance counselor handles 311 students each year, enabling only 23 percent of their time to be devoted to college advising. The CQE has stated that an additional guidance counselor is necessary here to give students a leg-up on the long process of choosing, applying for and being accepted into a 4-year college. (See an article in the Times highlighting how a counselor can impact the college application process.)

How much would an additional staff member cost the district and where would the money come from? Would the benefits of an additional counselor override the expense necessary to make it a reality? We were unable to connect with the Superintendent's office for clarification on what plans, if any, are being considered. However, the Board of Education will have to address these issues in the coming year throughout both the state-mandated QSAC evaluation and in response to the ongoing 2009-2010 budget process.

13 Comments

As the article says about bill A3690, this bill has no chance of passing.

consolidation.

Read Assembly Bill A3690. If this bill is passed, Metuchen will be forced to merge or consolidate with Edison. All hole in doughnut towns are ibcluded in this bill, by one our New Jersey's assemblyman. It would happen within ten years of being passed.

I attended to a two-year college fresh out of high school because of financial reasons. That was my choice. I think with the slow down the number of kids starting off at a four-year college will be down in a lot of towns.

I agree we probably could use an extra guidance counselor at the High School, especially since in the near future the number of students entering the High School are going up. Both Edgar and Campbell are busting at the seams! I would like to also point out that Metuchen will not be saved in these hard economic times. Property values will continue to decline, worse yet when people can no longer pay their property taxes due to job loss, the town will be forced to cut somewhere. There alot of things we need but maybe just can't afford! It's something to think about.

Meuchen has always had higher taxes than Edison on a similar sized home, and also a higher property value for that same home.

No sure about that comment about property values going down with higher taxes. If property values go up, property taxes go up also, they are linked.

Most of the places in NJ with high property values have very high taxes. Camden has low property taxes and very low property values, same with Newark.

Summit and Springfield have high property values and very high taxes

But do agree with your last line, very much so.

What are the qualifications for becoming a guidance counselor?

Our property values go down with higher taxes also. Makes it less attractive to move here and less attractive to live here.

So we want the govt. to run everything? Where is personal responsibility? Where is the right of the individual? Parents can't abdicate their responsibility of their kids without giving up their rights.

How about we address education instead of things like additional guidance counselors, athletics, SRO's and the like?

If the quality of our schools and the quality of the colleges our students attend affects our property values, this should be everyone's concern, not just parents'. And what about the kids whose parents are not equipped for the job of guidance counselor?

I wonder about the additional need (especially in these economic times)and shouldn't the parents be their child's guidance counselor?

Are we going to turn everything over to the state?

As posted in The DailyBeast, read what one former admission counselor has to say about guidance involvement in the admission process. (And what others have to say about the process in general -- http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-01-09/dirty-secrets-of-college-admissions/1/):

Stephen Friedfield, private college admissions consultant in Princeton, New Jersey. Now works as an admissions officer for Princeton’s graduate engineering program; former admissions officer at Cornell

“The biggest surprise for me was the difference in how much more contact private-school guidance counselors had with the admissions office vs. public schools. I went back to my own public high school alma mater and the guidance counselor asked, ‘Would it be okay for me to contact school regarding a student?’ I couldn't believe he was asking. That's just commonplace amongst the private school counselors or affluent suburban high schools. We brought in guidance counselors from a bunch of schools, most of them private high school counselors. And we visited those schools for events. We knew the private-school counselors by name and by face, and they've met the admissions officers from the most prestigious universities. That's a big advantage for students. Those counselors are pushing for them, advocating for them. I never got a call from a public school."

Thank you, Metuchen Matters, for covering the important issue of guidance services at the high school. Citizens for Quality Education (www.metuchencqe.org) believes that an additional guidance counselor would afford more students more personal attention in negotiating the way of their next steps beyond MHS and towards becoming productive members of society . . . be it in a job or in college. Nowadays, students and parents need help with high school course selection, the college search, the college application process, financial aid for college, etc.

Knowing that other New Jersey public high schools in our same district factor group (DFG) have, on average, a counselor/student ratio of about 1/150 (while the counselor/student ratio at MHS is nearly 1/300) allows us to see what is in the realm of possibilities for the Metuchen School District. There are even many New Jersey public high schools in a lower DFG with a better counselor/student ratio than Metuchen High School’s.

I encourage all Metuchenites to attend Board of Education meetings during the months of January and February when next year’s budget is being discussed and to attend the Superintendent’s Forum, Good to Great—What Does it Mean to Metuchen, on February 19 at 7:30 PM in the MHS Cafeteria. It is important for the entire town to express their interest and to voice their concerns and priorities, so that the Administration and BOE can decide what is important for all Metuchen students.

Also, this is just a friendly aside: Citizens for Quality Education doesn’t see itself as “a watchdog group” (as noted in this article) but rather as an organization that advocates for all students, at every level and across all grades. CQE intends to work with the Superintendent and the Board of Education. We all have the interest of each and every Metuchen student at heart.
--Kathy Liss, CQE President

I suppose that the primary purpose of a guidance counselor then (at least from the perspective of this article and the first comment posted) relates to the college acceptance game. When I was at MHS, college preparation was a piece of it, but certainly the primary focus. Knowing one had an adult who was available for help with personal problems of all sorts seemed the role of our guidance counselors. I am now a high school teacher and see the push to college beginning painfully early in a child's academic career. I wonder how much pressure guidance counselors feel to spend the bulk of their time on college preparation. What of students for whom college may not be an option? What about the time necessary to help a student with a problem of a personal nature? Will there be time for anything but college shopping? Will anyone truly wish to be a guidance counselor if the only "guidance" is how to market oneself to a college?

Guidance counselors are the most important part of the college admission process. If not for mine, I don't know if I would have made the informed decisions I made. If students need help with this, I Co-Founded a website to help with this very issue. I am currently a junior at NYU and my guidance counselors and teachers were there for me every step of the way. The website is http://www.morethangrades.com and students have access to a guidance counselor and can ask questions in a private manner. They can also get college information. The service is free to all high school students and their teachers and counselors. There is even scholarship money available

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  • Anonymous: As the article says about bill A3690, this bill has read more
  • Anonymous: consolidation. Read Assembly Bill A3690. If this bill is passed, read more
  • CinC: I attended to a two-year college fresh out of high read more
  • Anonymous: I agree we probably could use an extra guidance counselor read more
  • Anonymous: Meuchen has always had higher taxes than Edison on a read more
  • Anonymous: No sure about that comment about property values going down read more
  • Anonymous: What are the qualifications for becoming a guidance counselor? Our read more
  • Anonymous: If the quality of our schools and the quality of read more
  • Anonymous: I wonder about the additional need (especially in these economic read more
  • Teri Coleman: As posted in The DailyBeast, read what one former admission read more
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