Courtesy West Potomac
Imagine it’s been a few days since school has started and you want to switch out of your AP or honors class because it’s more difficult than you thought it would be. You head to your counselor’s office during class or wolverine time in order to make the switch, but the staff in the front office stop you and ask, “where’s your pass?” It’s currently lunch or wolverine time, so you don’t have one, and instead you head back to class or the cafeteria, not being able to accomplish much of what you wanted.
Counselors could be considered some of the most important faculty members in a school. They help students to understand where they should be, along with they giving students advice on what to do and are to guide them to the right path. This year, however, students of West Potomac struggle to meet their counselors, and therefore do not reap the benefits of having an assigned counselor.
“It’s pretty hard when they’re not there,” says junior Sean Brownlee. “They’re supposed to help you out with your schedule.”
While counselors should be an easily accessible resource as they are crucial to the high school experience, many students feel like the reality of the inconvenience of trying to even find their counselors when they are not busy discourages them from trying.
“It’s kind of hard meeting them [counselors],” explains senior Kaylen LeBlanc. “I’ve gone to the past month, I’ve tried going to her [LeBlanc’s counselor] multiple times and usually she’s in a meeting and then I try after school, but she’s gone.”
Another factor that makes things difficult to see your counselor are the passes required to and from student services.
“It’s even harder because…the front office [is] saying, ‘you don’t have a pass, well bye!’ and I go through the back door and I see my counselor, doing nothing. What do you mean I need a pass to see her?” adds LeBlanc.
However, rules are made for a reason, and there are justifiable reasons for requiring students to have a pass in order to see their counselor during lunch or wolverine time.
“You’re supposed to have a pass when you go from one to the room to the next,” states transcript assistant Beth Hofmann.
And while counselors are a crucial part of a high school student’s success, they may have prior commitments or other work they need to get done during the school day for other students.
“A student walks in thinking they could go see a counselor, to get an instant result. They [counselors] could be with parents, they could be registering, they could be dealing with a zillion other things, but they [students] want their need met right then, right there, whatever it is but if you had a pass, to schedule a time, they [counselors] will call for you when they are available to speak to you,” explains Hofmann.
While many students plan to meet their counselors in the morning, before school begins, counselors are busy performing hall duty in the morning, for example.
“I think it’s annoying because when you need to see your counselor, and they’re in hall duty, you can’t meet with them and sometimes what you need to talk about with your counselor is urgent and I also need to get to class,” says freshman Kennedy Zampese.
Despite some complaints, some counselors expressed support for the new policy, saying that the number of students in the school makes hall monitoring necessary.
“I do think it’s necessary. There are so many students in this building that having [an] adult presence in the hall at such a prime time is important. It is an opportunity for students to stop in the halls because we are located in Springbank, Gunston, Quander, so if you have a brief question, we’re available,” says counselor Randi Rosenberg.
There is also evidence to suggest that the current situation is an improvement over last year, especially with regard to the amount of time counselors must spend out-of-office.
“While that [hall duty] takes time away from us being available in the morning, we are actually glad about this because students may not know we had to do lunch duty up until last year,” comments counselor Kazue Watlington. “We were stuck in the cafeteria for two full hours, so if you think about it, that’s a real chunk of time when we could be doing a lot of things. So compared to that, it’s actually preferred only because it’s 10-15 minutes.”
Despite new policies, however, counselors still see students a top priority and become just as frustrated as you are when you can’t see your counselor when you want to.
“I’ve been frustrated, I think a lot of us are used to students coming to see us first thing in the morning. I miss that; so yes, it has affected us being able to see students in the morning,” says Watlington.