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The Gift of Advisors

Very nice feature on the UGA homepage this week about an Institute of Higher Education program that sends recent college graduates to high schools in disadvantaged Georgia communities to advise students on preparing for college. It may seem like a banal point - that high school students need advisors and counselors - but its importance can't be overstated and this is actually one of the areas that schools could support students much better simply by employing more qualified people:

"Increasing the proportion of Georgians who attend and complete college is vital to the prosperity of this state," said Libby V. Morris, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "The support of our donors, the dedication of our advisers and the determination of the students they serve is helping us realize that goal."

In Georgia, the average ratio of high school students to guidance counselors is more than 400 students for every counselor. In some low-income areas, the student-to-counselor ratio is even higher. The American School Counselor Association recommends one counselor for every 250 students, and the advising corps can help achieve that benchmark, according to Yarbrah Peeples, program director for the Georgia College Advising Corps.

Whereas a guidance counselor is trained to deal with the mental and emotional health of students, the advisers are trained to deal exclusively with preparing students for college. This can include anything from helping them register for the SAT and ACT to finding scholarships and advising them on what colleges look for in an application essay. Their work also frees up time for guidance counselors to focus on the mental and emotional well-being of their students.

GCAC advisers have found that it's not always a lack of effort in school that keeps students from going to college. Often, it's a lack of information and guidance on how to prepare and apply for college.

Emphasis on all of this. And of course any discussion about high school advisors reminds us of their importance one level up and the role of our outstanding advisor corp in the Franklin College. These colleagues work on the front lines of the lives of UGA students, helping to guide them through a minefield of constant deadlines and decisions, bringing focus to their current coursework while advising on crucial decisions that will effect their futures. It would be thankless work, except that we appreciate them so much - second only to the students to whom they are assigned. A special salute to this cadre of professionals, who contribute so much to the success of our students and, as Provost Morris noted above, the prosperity of this state.


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