How would you describe the role of professional school counselors to promote career and college readiness among under-served and underrepresented students? Answering this question, Jennifer Dwiggins M.Ed. ’18, a recent graduate of the school counseling program, took top prize in the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Future School Counselor Essay Competition.
An internship at a local high school helping students prepare for the transition from high school to college and career inspired Dwiggins to write about the need for school counselors to provide equitable services to under-served and underrepresented students as they make choices that will affect their future upon graduation.
As summer and high school graduations approach, the subject of the essay is timely. Dwiggins has seen firsthand the pressure felt by students—and how unprepared many are to make such important decisions about life after high school. “Today, a college education is required for many job opportunities, but many students who are underrepresented and underserved are not afforded the same opportunities to achieve their college and career aspirations,” she said
For her the answer is clear: an early and sustained focus on college and career readiness. “It allows for early identification of students in need of additional supports, giving school counselors the opportunity to address barriers promptly and systematically.”
Dwiggins sees school counselors as key to providing this additional support because of their prime position working with students and their families from the very beginning of a child’s formal education. They can provide students with early planning, resources and collaborators — those in the schools and the wider community that can propel students to a successful future.
“Writing about this topic helped me to express my passion for providing these services to students who are not always afforded the same opportunities,” said Dwiggins. And having just completed her master’s degree in school counseling, Dwiggins is eager to follow her passion and become part of the support system for these students.