Saturday, November 30, 2013

Should School Counseling Professors Have Worked as School Counselors?

Last week I had a conversation with one of my PhD classmates. He was on the search committee for new professors at the institution where we attend. I was eager to hear about his take on the interviews, for one of them is pretty well known in the school counseling arena. Well, I was shocked to hear that my favorite was his least favorite! "Why" I asked. "They have never been a school counselor"! He said. "Really"! I said, "but they have written all this stuff on school counseling"! So that got me thinking...Should school counseling professors, have been school counselors? Well I can tell you that in the world of academia, it's not that way because of the following reasons: 1) there is a shortage of school counseling professors at the collegiate level with school counseling experience. So as long as you have had an internship experience, that is sufficient. Unless they specify on the job announcement that one must have been a school counselor; and 2) Most experienced school counselors do not want to take a pay cut to become a full-time professor. The average salary of starting SC professors is about $40,000. YIKES!!! Yes, that is a huge deterrent for most of us! Thus, leaving those with internships to fill the jobs. It's a viscous cycle. 

However, when you think about that most of the current school counseling professors have not been a practicing school counselor in years, is there any different? Some say yes there is a difference because at least they have a frame of reference from which to draw from. Whereas the ones with no experience just have an internship to draw from. Then you have some who say they could never find a SC job. So they went on to continue with a PhD. You even have some school counseling professors whose dissertations aren't even related to school counseling. Go figure! 

When it comes to universities...if it is a research institution, they are more theoretical and teach the more idealistic version of school counseling. They value collaboration with school divisions from which they can partner in research endeavors from the field. This ensures that SC professors stay current in the field, for they can live vicariously through currently employed school counselors to understand what the current vibe is in school counseling. If it is a practice-based institution, they usually want someone who has walked the walk and talked the talk. They are more reality based. 

I personally know both kinds of school counseling professors. I cannot say how effective each kind is in relation to teaching our future school counselors, because I do not sit in their classes. I can say that they equally love school counseling. They are advocates for it and want to make the profession better by ensuring that their students have the best possible experiences during their master's programs...and it is my job to make sure they do! 


  1. I personally think they should have aƄ least 10 years in as a school counselor before teaching.

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