Photo credit to dfyf.org
Lack of counseling outside of school can prove to result in troublesome effects for youth. For a lot of students, their counseling extends only to their guidance counselors and nothing more. How long are these interactions? Fairly short from my personal recollection and not too informal or entertaining. I did have a caring guidance counselor on the contrary, but I didn’t spend much time with him outside of schedule creating him pushing me towards college. Outside of that, I had little in the framework of guidance throughout my youth. I cannot imagine what this could be for youth across the country. As we grow into our adolescent and teen years our attention spans lessen, our desire for social acceptance grows, and our sense of direction becomes clouded by the ladder. This meaning our trajectory can be detoured by the momentous amount of distractions and pressure that comes with these years. Without proper guidance, who knows how many of our youth can fall to the wayside
A 2016 article from the Atlantic titled The Undervaluing Of School Counselors States that the national average ratio between counselors and children is 491:1, a stark eclipse of the recommended ratio of 250:1. These numbers are staggering when it comes to assisting children with their pursuit of higher education and seeking better lives. Personally, 250:1 is a high number for a guidance counselor to handle, let alone 491:1. In some places, such as California and Arizona the ratio is 822:1 and 941:1 respectively. This is also problematic because a lot of these schools are from low-income households or are first-generation potential college students. A lot of these students don’t receive the necessary guidance from home, because there isn’t any, to begin with. Coming from low income or being first-generation there is no one to guide them necessarily, which can have disastrous results. Then, at school, their guidance counselor possibly has to deal with about 490 more students, a great portion who have the same dilemmas. Also, they potentially can’t fit their counselors into their schedules because of the conflict of time. So what happens? These students can’t get guidance on what to do for higher education, they can’t get proper information on SAT and ACT prep, or college prep, or any other further education and they end up falling to the wayside potentially because they can’t reach that next step. The challenge that presides here is lack of guidance leads to the inability to reach the next level. However, it isn’t the only issue that arises from a lack of proper guidance or educational counseling.
As I stated before, the lack of counseling can detour one’s trajectory and cause them to turn to outside outlets to cope with the traumas they may face. This is especially problematic for youths that face low income and impoverished areas. Students that may come from these backgrounds can turn to violence, drugs and other types of paraphernalia. Being an inner-city youth, I witnessed a lot of my peers turn to these distractions and drop out of school at times. I witnessed a lot of students I grew up with change over the years because they didn’t have proper guidance. A best friend of mine In middle school suffered from this epidemic. We would go to school every morning together, take the same classes, go home together, hang out from time to time. However, one summer he changed, He came back to a completely different person. From there we had two different paths to life. He is now living a street life and doing who knows what, and I now have two degrees. What’s the difference between us? I was blessed with the proper guidance counselors that pushed throughout my youth, and he wasn’t so fortunate. This story is transferrable to a lot of the youth I grew up with. Out of all of my friends I had growing up with (roughly 20-30), I would say I’m the only one who went away for college or even went to college. And this was because I had the proper guidance. A lot of them have turned to violence or drugs, some of them have sadly passed away. There were limited resources for us, many of us barely visited our guidance counselors or were given after school programs that assisted us with education and higher learning. This is the tragic reality we’re forced to survive in, and it is a powerful demonstration of how our lack of proper counseling has failed us when it comes to prosperity.
Because of the lack of school counseling, and its serious diminished resources, a strong recommendation would be to seek outside counseling. Being a coordinator for Black and Latino youth through the YMCA, I get to work up close and personal with students and guide them to outlets of higher learning. This is tremendous for helping guide the youth for me. This is because I can relate to these adolescents and be able to interact with them on a weekly basis, adjusting the lessons and learning outcomes to prepare them for their futures. Programs like this are scarce and encouraged because it allows close interactions with children in need of guidance and allows them to create the curriculum. One of the most significant dilemmas in my opinion with school systems, especially public schools is that they don’t cater to the child’s desires, wishes and goals. So they don’t reach them so their intrigue is limited to counseling or their schools. I wasn’t aware of the program I’m currently coordinating as a youth, However, I know it would’ve given me an opportunity beyond my wildest imagination if I were exposed to it. This gives me more motivation to promote and encourage youth to become a part of it. A struggle I experienced as a youth was finding proper guidance outside of school, especially in high school that was accessible and nurturing my desires. It was because of that that I was lost for much of my high school years just floating through classes. The imagination goes off into the vacuum of space as to how many youths like me were challenged with the same fate.
Our Youth face a problem that we cannot ignore anymore. So many of them have limited to no resources in the guidance department, which places another burden on their shoulders as they try to climb the mountain of challenges they face in today’s society. Without enough guidance, many of them will fail in life in general. Even if we can’t provide them guidance in schools, we can use nonprofits and community outreach to assist them and give them the proper tools to succeed.
Written By: Adonis Richards of Adonisinquiry.
Edited by Emma Consiglio of Inner Visions International (innervisionsint.com)