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Brooklyn Tech’s Counseling Crossroads

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Outside a guidance counselor’s office

Every fall, Brooklyn Tech welcomes over 6,000 students, and with them, their concerns. Guidance counselors, numbering 22 in all, find themselves grappling with an overwhelming workload, averaging nearly 300 students per counselor.

The day-to-day of guidance counselors is relatively unknown to students. Many know about college applications, scheduling issues, recommendation letters, check-ins, and mental health concerns that guidance counselors attempt to aid students with. Yet, there is a long list of others: hospital visits, family meetings, community outreach and involvement, teacher check-ins, individual progress reports, crisis support meetings, reports for the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), assisting transfer students with adjusting to Tech, and more.

 With countless responsibilities, guidance counselors are often unable to give students the tailored attention they need. A poll conducted through The Survey revealed that 85.7% of Tech students feel as though they do not receive enough personalized attention. This belief was echoed through an interview with a sophomore. “I felt that sometimes it wasn’t worth it to go to my guidance counselor, not because [they] didn’t care, but because [they] had a lot on [their] plate,” she said. According to a poll, 100% of guidance counselors believe that they are not able to give each student sufficient personalized attention, reflecting students’ concerns.

Still, Mr. Jan-Kristòf Louis-Mansano, the Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services, stressed that overall unresponsiveness is not the norm. “I try my best to give as much importance to every student as much as possible.” Sometimes, he even stays in the building until 7 PM, acknowledging that if he doesn’t, the work “will pile up into the next day, and it will make me frustrated, and [he] won’t be [his] best self to [his] students.” 

Mr. Louis-Mansano regularly encourages guidance counselors to reply to students within 24 hours to assist students in their daily lives at Tech. 67% of guidance counselors expressed their ability to achieve these expectations, even with 30-50 emails received every day. 28.6% of students, on the other hand, revealed none of their emails had been replied to in the time frame.

With the caseload and workload of guidance counselors, these response times can be expected.  Students and counselors alike have expressed the need to hire a greater number of counselors to ease stress and increase personalized attention. 

As expressed in Spectrum News, Mark Veronica, the president of the High School Counselors Association of Western New York, stated that the national average of 430 students per counselor, or even New York State’s average of 350 is much higher than the ideal student-to-counselor ratio of 100 students, or even the recommended 250. As communicated by Principal David Newman, Tech is in a better position than most schools, with guidance counselor caseloads having dropped from about 350 to nearly 300 in recent years. 

Still, adding additional guidance counselors to the payroll may not be the best solution as of now, especially given Tech’s current initiatives in hiring supplementary support services with a particular emphasis on mental health support. Newman explained, “There are escalated situations where formerly a student would talk to a guidance counselor, now is going to a social worker.” At the same time, the number of social workers doubled from 2022 going into 2023 and again this year. Mr. Newman emphasized Tech’s goal to encourage “more support for students across the board, especially special ED, social-worker wise, and this should be freeing up some time from the work that guidance counselors formally did.”

Although this change will be gradual, certain steps can and have been taken in the present—especially when it comes to mental health. Students have expressed the benefits of counselors using Google Classroom as a vital resource to distribute announcements, updates, scholarships, or programs to reach students. With small initiatives such as these, a step towards vital change in the Tech community is taken.

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About the Contributor
Aarushi Arora, Staff Writer
Aarushi Arora (she/her) is a Staff Writer. Aarushi dedicates time to The Survey due to the importance it has in uplifting voices that would otherwise be drowned out. Beyond that, she firmly believes that the initial step towards change begins with open conversations. The Survey, and journalism as a whole, are powerful tools for bringing overlooked perspectives to the forefront, empowering people to create significant changes. For her daily dose of news, Aarushi reads The New York Times. That being said, she tends to read Psychology Today as well, due to her interest in the subject matter. While Aarushi has a keen interest in journalism, her long-standing aspiration has been to become a distinguished psychologist, enabling her to make a positive impact on lives and potentially contribute to research in the field. In her free time, Aarushi loves to explore and take walks with her friends. She's also an avid reader and writer and occasionally indulges in Netflix binge-watching sessions. As of now, Aarushi's favorite book may be White Noise by Don DeLillo. It's one of those books you are able to read over and over, finding new meanings each time.

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