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Counselors explain registration process

[media-credit name=”Nina Kaplan” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Junior Jankee Patel meets with her counselor Kyra Bateman to discuss course selections for next year.

by David Kwartler
For many students, their counselors are helpful resources and important parts of their school careers.
Although high school can be exciting, it can often times be difficult and stressful. Students may receive extra support and guidance from their counselors that can be beneficial to creating a positive high school experience.

Registration Day

Today is Registration Day, a day in which students select their courses for next year. Counselors are very actively involved in the course selection process, according to guidance department head Beth Swederskas.
“During, the time between February break and Registration Day, counselors meet with various students regarding their course selections for next year. Counselors of freshmen conduct small group seminars to ensure that freshmen understand and take a proactive role in the registration process,“ said Swederskas.
“Counselors may take notes on what they discuss with their students, give advice on how to proceed with registering for classes and, if necessary, consult with teachers on what classes they are recommending for their students. On Registration Day, counselors are stationed in the Learning Commons all day to support students on an as-needed basis,” said Swederskas.
In addition to being heavily involved in helping students select appropriate courses, counselors play a major role in the steps taken after Registration Day, according to Swederskas.
Counselors are involved in the verification process, which is when students’ courses for next year are finalized. Counselors identify errors on students’ course verification sheets and work with the Data Center to enroll students in classes, according to Swederskas.
“As students progress through high school, their schedules become more open since they fulfill graduation requirements each year. Each year may bring a different perspective on what a student takes during the year and what leads to the next year’s courses,” said Swederskas.
As students progress through this school, counselors ensure that course selections benefits students for college and for their post-high school careers. Counselors make sure that students take courses appropriate for them, meaning classes that challenge students academically while not overwhelming them, according to Swederskas. This contributes to a healthy and manageable high school experience, she said.
“The most important aspect of course selection is balance. Students and parents need to think about the right number of courses, taken in appropriate curriculum levels and think about life beyond the classroom regarding extra-curricular activities and social obligations,” said Swederskas.

Working with students

While counselors are heavily involved in the registration process, their overall role is to ensure that students are comfortable at this school and to address any concerns with emotional issues, class-related problems and swapping courses, said counselor Tom Sheehan.
The role of a counselor is “helping kids with appropriate scheduling and courses; fulfilling graduation requirements; helping with emotional and social issues both here and at home; finding resources in the community; and enabling them to have a positive experience at this school,” he said.
At this school, ensuring that students receive enough attention from counselors is very important, according to Sheehan.
Swederskas explained, “With about 1900 students and with 9.8 school counselors, if you count part-time counselors, you’d get roughly 193 students to each counselor.” This helps to ensure that each student receives enough attention and support from the counselors as they need, according to Swederskas.
Counseling is not mandated by the state of Massachusetts. However, the Newton Public Schools deemed that it is important to have counselors, Swederskas said.
Counselors play an important role in the high school experience of students, but it differs from grade to grade, according to counselor Tom Sheehan.
Sheehan said that the counselors’ role “depends on the time of year.”
He continued, “this school does a great job for freshmen, with extensive planning with middle school staff. There’s a lot of things in place to help kids adapt to the larger facility. Freshmen know that there are resources available for them to turn to.”
Swederskas said, “It depends on the semester. Seniors and freshman receive the most attention in the fall, as they are transitioning in and out of the school. In the spring, juniors and sophomores get more attention as they are thinking about starting their life beyond Newton North.”

College process

The college process is an important focus of counselors at this school. From sophomore year to senior year, counselors help students decide what they will be doing after high school, Swederskas said.
In sophomore year, counselors meet with students to discuss, “starting a career interest and what they may want to do in the future and how that ties into their classes,” explained Swederskas.
Sheehan said that when working with sophomores, he tries “supporting and helping them make choices and do what they need to do as they move forward.”
In junior year, the college process takes full swing, Sheehan said. “As we come into January, I run seminars and talk to my juniors about the college process and how it works.”
He added, “In junior year, it’s getting ready. They take SATs , think about what they want to do in the future and investigate options and possibilities.”
Swederskas said that “Second semester of junior year is the beginning of post-graduate planning, so their first semester lets them have a solid footing in their courses and extra-curricular activities.”
Seniors are focused on “applying to colleges, writing essays and having the busiest time of their high school career,” said Swederskas.
As students make the transition out of high school and into college and careers, counselors are there to ensure that the experience is as smooth as possible, she said.

Supporting students

Another role of the Guidance Department’s is providing support for students to ensure they can do their best work. When high school becomes stressful or difficult or problems arise, counselors are their to help students, Sheehan said.
“Some students feel comfortable, adapt easily and receive support at home,” he said. “Others need extra support, because difficulties at home or school require more support.”
Swederskas said the role of counselors is to “provide consultation; supervision, as needed; and support.”
Many students may have emotional or social issues during the high school years, and their counselor is a good person to go to, she said.
Although some students only see their counselors when they are required to, some students find them essential resources. Counselors work to make the college process go smoothly, and they generally work to make students’ high school experiences positive, according to Sheehan.
The department works to ensure that students feel comfortable at this school and works to make sure that the students’ academic lives are successful, according to Swederskas.

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