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School Counselors Impact Student Outcomes

School Counselors Impact Student Outcomes


An analysis of government data finds that high school seniors who meet with school counselors are more likely to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and more likely to enroll in college.

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) crunched the numbers from the High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS) published by the U.S. Department of Education.

NACAC reported several positive outcomes for high school seniors who meet with their school counselors to discuss college admissions and financial aid:

  • They are 6.8 times more likely to file the FAFSA
  • They are 3.2 times more likely to enroll in college
  • They are 2 times more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree

Other important factors included whether the student participated in a college prep program, the percentage of the student’s close friends who planned to attend a four-year college, parent expectations concerning the child’s postsecondary participation, whether the child met with a counselor in the ninth grade to talk about college and whether the child’s parents talked with a counselor about college when the child was in the eleventh grade.

It is unclear whether the results suffer from selection bias. In other words, college-bound students are more likely to meet with a school counselor, as opposed to the meeting causing the student to aspire to a postsecondary education. Most likely it is a combination of both. Nevertheless, the much greater likelihood of filing the FAFSA suggests that meetings with school counselors are causing more students to file the FAFSA.

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