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Guidance should adjust student appointment system

The process to see a counselor is flawed, stressful due to lack of organization, streamlined scheduling process
Angela Rao

When I walked into the Guidance Center seeking help for the first time as a freshman, I was greeted with a welcome sign and an empty desk. I scanned the room in confusion, and a boy on my right nodded towards the purple Google form lighting up a computer screen.

I went over, filled out my request to talk with my counselor, and left looking forward to the advice I would receive to prepare myself for the upcoming school year. That was two years ago. I never received a date or appointment to meet with my counselor. In fact, I heard nothing but silence from the Guidance Department for over a year.

When I reached out again toward the end of my sophomore year, this time by directly emailing my counselor, all I got was an auto-reply email. The email told me to set up an appointment through the Google Form in the Guidance Center.

Frustrated, I realized I was running in circles. I know I am not alone in facing this issue: many students experience delays when trying to meet with their counselors. This issue can be attributed to a lack of communication as well as inflexibility.

As a result, many students feel the process of booking an appointment with their counselor is too stressful or daunting, often leaving students less motivated and unlikely to reach out and ask for help when they need it.

Students look to their counselors for guidance when making schedule changes, for example.

These schedule changes are critical when it comes to grades, mental health and college applications, so it is important to have access to a guidance counselor who can provide answers to personal questions.

However, when a student’s guidance counselor is not present or is unable to provide support, students are often left to figure out the complex structure of academic pathways and their own academic careers on their own.

This could lead students down a pathway that isn’t suited for them because while students may have access to the course catalog and upperclassmen’s reviews of certain classes, students don’t necessarily know which classes they should drop, keep or add, often increasing stress and anxiety.

While the administration encourages students to use the Three-Tiered Guidance System and rely on their Teacher Advisor first, the system is insufficient because advisors often don’t have the information students need.

To better this system, the Guidance Department should clarify the specific roles of Advisors and what information they have to students through a more outlined and organized Three Tier System.

Allowing more transparency through clarity of the different roles divided between Advisors and counselors would help students make educated decisions.

The Google Form appointment scheduling system is also insufficient because it fails to acknowledge students are the ones who need to ask for these appointments. To make this appointment process more streamlined for students, the Guidance Department should make a master calendar using Calendly, much like the Paly College and Career Center counselors do, with blocked-out dates that show when counselors aren’t available.

Additionally, the calendar should include a form where students post their availability.

This way, if random openings free up, guidance counselors can meet with students sooner rather than later.

I urge Guidance to understand how important having accessible counselors is to students while at Paly and after; it directly affects their academic and personal lives physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Guidance counselors and administrators did not respond to interview requests for this story.

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Isabelle Carlsen, Staff Writer
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