By Tony Losongco
Now that WACAC has welcomed the nation’s college counselors to San Diego to celebrate the current state of the profession, I want to celebrate the future of the profession. As a counseling graduate student at a diverse university, I’d like to share how that future looks by sharing what the future professionals — my classmates and future college counseling colleagues — bring to the table.
First, the future professionals bring knowledge of students’ diverse environments. They have worked in rural high schools where as few as 1% of students are white non-Hispanic, and urban commuter colleges with more than 20,000 students. They know that students enter college needing personal counseling, career counseling, academic support, social support, financial support, and sometimes even food security. They know about the needs of Dreamers, first-generation students, low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and LGBT students (and they know that the initials don’t stop at T).
Second, they bring skills for working with diverse students. Their training includes many skill sets of their marriage and family therapy counterparts, especially client-centered approaches and multiculturalism. In school settings, they apply those skills to give the best support possible to every student who comes in. They embrace the use of data to identify underserved groups of students. And they use their leadership roles to advocate for those students whose voice isn’t heard on campus or at home.
Finally, they bring self-awareness. They themselves are Dreamers, first-gen students, low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and LGBT students. They know all that they bring to the table — their personalities, their biases (and the ways they check those biases), their education, their experience — and they use their gifts for the good of their students.
The annual NACAC conference celebrates the recent present in our profession while providing a forum for our concerns for the future. It’s a daunting task trying to keep up with our changing world, right? But the future college counselors, people like me, are eager to find our place in that changing world and help students do the same. We can’t wait to get started.