Our blog this week is written by James Bloom, an experienced college counsellor, teacher and administrator. We asked him to explain the enigma that is school counsellors. Why do they all have different titles? Do they do the same thing or are they totally different? He has produced two excellent blogs which couldn’t be more helpful, witty and interesting to read. So read on for words by way of clarifying & curtailing counselling confusion & corner cutting…

hmmA Deceptively Lighthearted & Laughing Introduction to a Sort of Serious Topic

The following post is going to be about the three kinds of counsellors and psychologists employed, or not employed, or ‘mis-employed’ at international schools. In a first for the T.H. Blog, it’s directed toward international school recruiters, administrators and proprietors in the hope they’ll become convinced forthwith of the wisdom of either hiring in or outsourcing all three varieties of support services to be discussed, thereby bringing a moral credit upon themselves and the schools they manage that will surely far outweigh the financial debit of doing so. Teachers and counsellors are, of course, encouraged to read it too, that they may nod sagely in agreement, shake their heads slowly in dismay, giggle giddily with gumptious glee, or flagrantly file their fingernails with indifference, as they see fit.

Right then, it is has already been suggested that the kinds of counsellors and psychologists employed in schools are three in number, reminding readers variously of the three persons of the holy trinity, the three types of house construction materials employed by the three little pigs or even the ‘Three Little Maids from School’ of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. These three kinds are: 1) College & Careers Counsellors, 2) Emotional & Behavioural Counsellors, who will ideally be Clinical Psychologists, a.k.a. Psychotherapists, at schools that are offering true blue chip support services, and 3) Educational Psychologists. Now let’s get straight what each of these folks does, and why someone trained in one of these areas does not necessarily possess the specialist knowledge or attributes of character to wing it in either or both of the other fields, although it is always possible, albeit unlikely, that they might.

1. College & Careers Counselling– No, not Anyone Can Do it & Beware of Thieves


College & Careers Counsellors are by far the least highly trained of our three. I should know; I am one. Nevertheless, their job is specialized and schools that fob it off on some member, or members, of staff who are untaught or uninterested in it, or both, are doing their graduates-to-be a great disservice by not getting them into the universities or courses of study, or both, that will serve them best. And in so doing, such schools are also doing themselves a disservice because, deny it though they may, this is the outcome of the secondary education process on which parents are going to judge them the most. Therefore, if you haven’t got a properly knowledgeable college and careers counsellor in house, then outsource this important and handily seasonal job to a visiting college counsellor like me who’ll do your graduates and institution credit by doing it properly. Although there are plenty of other outsourcing options for obtaining college counselling, here’s a link to my website by way of example https://jamesebloom.wixsite.com/website

Carrying out college and careers counselling correctly at an international school is a different pithos of ichthyes from doing so in a national school, whichever nation it may be in. The trouble is that college counsellors tend to be primarily or exclusively familiar with higher education options in their own countries, and when they take to working abroad too many of them do too little to really get to know about other options elsewhere. In a school with a genuinely international purview of high quality English-medium higher education, the college counsellor should be conversant with the application processes, and aware of a broad range of options in: the U.S. and Canada, Australia and ideally New Zealand, the U.K. and ideally Ireland, continental Europe (mainly northern Europe, but also a number of specialized choices in southern and eastern Europe), and the Far East (mainly Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, but also several in Japan, Korea and recently China).

Unfortunately, the world of independent international college and careers advising is full of scammers and sharks. In Shanghai and Mumbai, or in Istanbul and Moscow, there are independent college advisors who shamelessly ask and get between $5,000 and $25,000 from wealthy parents to take one of their children through the college admissions process, usually by lying or implying that they have connections at elite colleges in the U.S. But the fact is that much more seasoned and honest chaps, or chapesses, such as myself, will do a far more thorough job, for a school or a family, for a sum with one ‘0’ less on the right, depending upon the number of hours of support they have to provide.

In addition, a seasoned college and careers counsellor will have a sound awareness of good options by sector; in other words, they’ll be able to recommend strong engineering, medical, business, law, or fine, performing and liberal arts alternatives in different countries. Moreover, unless all the families at an international school are wealthy enough that the price of higher education is no object, then the college counsellor should also be conversant with tuition and living costs, as well as availability of scholarships or other financial aid at institutions in the above named regions. Finally, a good international college counsellor needs to be sufficiently assertive to provide a clear, firm, persuasive reality check in regard to the interests and/or abilities of the student in the very frequent instances where parents’ are unable or unwilling to take account of this.

…To be continued

In part 2 we hear all about Emotional & Behavioural Counsellors & Therapists, and Educational Psychologists. Make sure you check back in for that! If you are looking for a counselling job in an international school, we have plenty available. Set up your free profile now, and begin searching our jobs database.

photo of author
Written by James Bloom
a freelance college counselor for international schools and families. He was a teacher, counselor and administrator in international schools for 18 years.
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