International College Counselors Comments on Current Guidance Counselor Shortage

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Expert college advisor Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, weighs in on the counselor shortage at many high schools across the country. Public school counselors have an average caseload of 471 students.

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It’s penny wise and pound foolish. Adding college counselors to help these students now will prevent much more trouble later.

In many high schools, students have the opportunity to see their college guidance counselor only once a year, reported Time Magazine (12.3.13). There is little doubt this is highly detrimental for students, according to International College Counselors.

“Colleges are more expensive, and the college process is more confusing than ever,” said Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors. “Students need a counselor for help with everything from choosing the right high school courses to take, planning their SAT/ACT exam schedule, selecting the best colleges for themselves, completing the college applications, getting financial aid, scholarships, and more.

The American High School Counselor Association (ASCA) said public school counselors in the U.S. now have an average caseload of 471 students, reported Time Magazine. The recommended student to school counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor. Nationwide the average ratio is 239 students, but some states have much higher ratios than the national average. In California, the numbers show a 1-to-500 ratio, and in Georgia, it’s 1-to-512. Florida averaged 451 students per counselor in 2011. In contrast, counselors in private schools have a median caseload of 106, according to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

“Even though the article uses the word 'only' before the 106, that number is high, as well,” said Adler. “Each student is different and there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. alone, thousands of different academic tracks, and any number of ways to pay the tuition.”

To make matters worse, budget cuts are forcing some counselors to spend even less time with the increasing numbers of students and more time on other unrelated responsibilities, like handling discipline issues, supervising the cafeteria at lunch, or proctoring exams, reported Time.

This hurts high school students. College counselors are often the primary source of information about college and without their help many students end up at colleges that are the wrong fit for them, or never learn about scholarships and/or financial aid for which they may qualify. A number of students give up and never attend college.
Additionally, most private universities ask for a counselor recommendation. With 471 students per counselor, it’s very hard for public high school counselors to write meaningful recommendations. This may give students at a public school a disadvantage when applying to a private university.

“It’s penny wise and pound foolish,” said Adler. “Adding college counselors to help these students now will prevent much more trouble later.”


This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.

For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit

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Cheree Liebowitz
International College Counselors
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