From the Desk of Dr. Ahmed 

Navigating the American school system is challenging for students and families who are not from the United States. Schools have many people on staff to help with all the areas connected with education. The challenge for those new to the system is figuring out who to talk to for what issue. For example, a family may be having trouble figuring out transportation for their child to and from school. Or their child may need assistance with the college application process. 

Schools have different people on staff to help with each of these areas – as well as many more. 

In my May column (available on the website: explained that schools have social workers whose job is to help students who need support. In my column I encouraged parents to contact the social worker at their childs school with any concerns at all about how he or she is doing. 

Schools also have guidance counselors, and each student in a high school is assigned to a guidance counselor at the beginning of the year. This guidance counselor works with the student all year. In some schools, students keep the same counselor for several years. Guidance counselors provide services such as academic counseling, career counseling, and personal counseling.  

Following are some specifics services that guidance counselors provide for high school students: 

  • Counselors use researchbased tools and techniques to help students discover their abilities and interests. 
  • Counselors teach students problemsolving strategies to help them succeed in the classroom and school. 
  • Counselors work with students and families to create student programs and schedulesThey guide students in choosing courses that match their interests and academic level. Guidance counselors can also help students explore various trades. 
  • Counselors help students enroll in classes at community colleges and universities while they are still in high school.  This can be a good option for motivated students. 
  • Counselors meet with students individually and in groups to help them with the complex college application process.  
  • Counselors process college applications for students. They send student transcripts and other supporting materials including recommendation letters to college admissions offices. 

Guidance counselors can play a very important role in your child’s education. Parents and students should make sure to introduce themselves to the student’s guidance counselor at the beginning of the school year.