Guidance Counselor Career Interview
Tim McGrath works as a guidance counselor and math teacher at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
Guidance Counselor Career Path
Tim started out as a math teacher, but he decided that being a guidance counselor was his calling.
“While teaching middle school,” he recalls, “I liked the way that the guidance counselors interacted with the whole staff and took an interest in students’ overall lives.”
Guidance Counselor Experiences
Tim received his Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from University of Illinois-Urbana, his Master’s degree in management from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, his teacher certificate in secondary education – math from Elmhurst College, and his Master’s degree in School Counseling from Concordia University, Chicago.
Before working as a guidance counselor, Tim taught math at a number of different levels, including six years at Hadley Junior High in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, one year at Willowbrook High School in Willowbrook, Illinois, and two years at Glen Crest Middle School.
To become a guidance counselor, Tim needed a Counseling degree in addition to working in the field.
Since 2006, Tim has worked as a guidance counselor and a math teacher at Glenbard South High school in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
“I had required clinical hours,” Tim explains. “I spent a year at Glenbard South as a guidance department intern before being hired as a counselor. I also consider my 10 years of teaching experience vital to my success as a counselor. It helped me to understand the job of a teacher and the demands on students.”
Guidance Counselor Degree Programs
You need a Master’s degree in School Counseling in order to become a guidance counselor. You also need to pass state testing for certification.
Guidance Counselor Job Description
Tim is a guidance counselor at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he helps students and families in a variety of ways.
Guidance Counselor Daily Routine
“A normal day includes meeting with students when they have needs related to personal, social, emotional, academic, career and college concerns, meet with teachers and parents to discuss student concerns, visit and meet with future Glenbard South students, explain to students what they need in their course loads and schedules for each quarter, and help struggling students and their parents,” Tim explains. “I am responsible for over 300 students on my caseload.”
Guidance Counselor: Steps to Success
To work with so many high school students, a successful guidance counselor needs to have a lot of patience and empathy.
“You also need to be able to communicate well in addition to being a good listener,” Tim adds. “Be able to work with all groups of people, from students and parents to teachers, administrators and community members.”
Guidance Counselor Job Opportunities
Securing a job as a guidance counselor can be challenging.
“There are usually only 5 to 9 counselors per high school,” Tim explains. “The present economy requires counselors to be responsible for larger caseloads.”
Guidance Counselor’s Future Ambitions
Tim hopes to keep helping students reach their goals, but maybe with a little less of a caseload.
Advice for Prospective Guidance Counselors
“Teach or substitute teach in the classroom first,” Tim advises. “Understand what the classroom teacher is required to do every day, and that will go a long way in becoming a better counselor.”
“School counseling is a great field that is very demanding at times but can be very rewarding,” he adds. “Be willing to learn, listen to others, and bring your ideas to the job, and try all aspects of education to see what is the best fit for you.”