Reduction in counselors at DHS increases college admissions work

By From page A1 | September 20, 2013

With college admissions season gearing up, counselors at Davis High School are as busy as ever.

Last year, according to one, more than half of the senior class filled out the Common Application, an online application used by more than 500 colleges. The form makes applying to multiple schools much easier for students, who only have to fill out the application once and then submit it to all the colleges on their list electronically.

Traditionally, private schools have utilized the Common App, but more and more public schools are as well, according to college admissions expert Sally Springer.

In addition to personal information, test scores, extracurricular activity and other items, the Common Application requires a secondary school report, which is where the counselors come in. Along with providing the applicant’s transcript, the report also includes a letter of recommendation written by a counselor.

In order to write that letter, counselors require students to fill out a packet of information detailing their interests, talents, awards, activities and more, and they also meet individually with each student for a 30-minute interview in order to better get to know that student before writing the letter.

Ideally, each counselor already will know the students in their caseload fairly well, having served as their counselor since the students arrived at Davis High sophomore year.

However, there is turnover in the counseling office and occasionally counselors will find themselves meeting a student for the first time during college application season.

That will be the case for several DHS students this year who have found themselves reassigned in the wake of cutbacks in the school’s counseling department.

Shortly before classes began in August, the district laid off counselor Teresa Anderson and shifted her hours to the junior high level in order to even out caseloads across all of the district’s secondary schools.

Anderson’s caseload of students was divided among the five remaining counselors, increasing their caseloads on average by more than 30 students each.

Meanwhile, her incoming seniors were divided among the remaining counselors as well. Each counselor now will have additional Common App secondary school reports to complete, including writing more letters of recommendation.

According to a report on staffing levels being presented to the school board on Thursday evening, counselor caseloads at Davis High increased from 312 students per counselor last year to 344 this year. The caseload was 304 two years ago.

Meanwhile, the student-to-counselor ratio at the junior high schools will shrink, returning to levels last seen two years ago. Holmes this year saw a drop from 480 students per counselor to 370; Harper’s ratio shrunk from 437 to 364 students per counselor; and Emerson’s from 430 to 383.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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