The context and variables that affect at-risk students are constantly changing. It is imperative that school counselors understand the risk factors for students and the cultural and social contexts the individual lives within. Working with at-risk students is even more challenging with the millennial generation. The culture in this generation promotes instant gratification as society has reinforced that all individuals will succeed. At-risk students in this generation can be in disbelief of even being at-risk and may assume that others will solve their problems. Federally funded TRIO programs have shown to a positive impact on at-risk student development. Although there has been sufficient evaluation and review of TRIO programs’ impact on disadvantaged college students, there is a lack of research of student evaluation of their high school counselors after they graduate. It is important to consider the high school counselor’s impact on postsecondary success. College students involved in TRIO completed surveys rating their high school counselor. School counselor rating scores were correlated with the number of school counselors in that school, r(20) = 0.45, p = .043. This study has implications for school counselors and emphasizes the importance of school counselor contact. This research is the first step in the evaluation of high school counselors from students even when they are no longer high school students.

Key Take Away Points

  • At-risk students from schools where school counselors had smaller caseloads rated their counselors more favorably based on the ASCA National Model
  • Students who worked rated school counselors as more effective suggests that characteristics of students who work has a positive impact on their relationship with school counselor
  • This study is a first step in understanding school counselor effectiveness, especially for at-risk youth involved in a TRIO college program

Author Biography

Marguerite Ohrtman, Ed.D. is the Director of School Counseling and M.A. Clinical Training at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Ohrtman is a licensed school counselor and licensed professional counselor in Minnesota. Marguerite’s research interests include at-risk youth, the achievement gap, and the training of school counselors. Please email her at mohrtman@umn.edu.

Sarah Cronin, M.A., is a Ph.D. candidate studying Counseling Psychology at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities’ Educational Psychology Department. She teaches master’s-level graduate students studying community and school counseling as well as undergraduate-level courses in development. Sarah has research experience studying school counseling, under-represented college students, student development, and supervision. Sarah Cronin’s email is nels8096@umn.edu.

Erik Torgerson, M.A., is a middle school counselor with Prior Lake Savage Area Schools. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His email is etorgerson@priorlake-savage.k12.mn.us.

Marin Thuen, M.A., is a graduate of the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is currently a school counselor with Minneapolis Public Schools. She works with 8th and 9th graders and has a focus on the transition to high school. Her email is marin.thuen@mpls.k12.mn.us.

Emily Colton, M.A., is a licensed school counselor with Saint Paul Public Schools. She is a graduate of the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Emily's research interests include school counselor ethics, technology use, and best practices. Her email is colt0053@umn.edu.