Counseling career in secondary schools, as a comprehensive guidance service, is an outgrowth of the earlier program of vocational guidance in schools. Such programs were slowly adopted by school systems through the 1920s- Boston and New York were among the first - but with the Depression years, school budgets were at a low point and the vocational guidance movement came to a standstill. Not until after World War II, when the many and swift changes of a society in transition to be felt, did guidance services begin to show signs of growth. Many factors contributed to the sudden spurt.
There was a great migration from rural to urban living, and city as well as urban area schools became overcrowded. Students lost their individual identity in the crowds of fellow students. More courses were being offered in more schools, and choices among them became ever more difficult to make. More mothers began to take jobs outside of the home when it became necessary for families to have two sources of income because of the rising cost of living. Fewer young people, therefore, were enjoying the advantages of adult association and counseling in their own homes.
The changes of the counseling jobs brought about by technological developments made it difficult for parents to help their children with wise career choices. Old familiar jobs were disappearing from society and strange new ones were developing. As living standards improved, more parents, who themselves had not gone to college, planned a college education for their children. The lack of experience with college admissions procedures made parents hesitate to try to help their children with college choices.
During the years following World War II, school guidance programs gradually evolved the philosophy heretofore outlined. They grew slowly but steadily, both in numbers an din expanded programs. Services supportive or supplemental to the guidance programs in the school were also developing slowly at the same time. Many colleges and universities initiated training programs for guidance counselors during this period. Certification standards for counselors were established or upgraded. State departments of education inaugurated or expanded guidance departments. The U.S Office of Education embarked upon an ambitious leadership program for guidance services. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 made provisions for federal support of guidance programs in secondary schools.
Being part of the counseling career, the guidance counselor is an educational specialist who works in school setting to provide a planned program of guidance services for the benefit of all students who are enrolled in the school. The guidance program is not one single plan, but is the combination of many related activities. It has several aims, but its most important one is to help each student in the process of growth toward maturity. The guidance program is designed to help students learn to help themselves - to achieve the independence of a contributing member of society.
Furthermore, all guidance programs are unique. Each one is built especially for the school in which it functions. With varying emphases, depending upon the needs of the students in the school and the community in which the school is located, the counselors may plan for a variety of guidance services. As also part of the school counselor jobs, the guidance counselor conducts an orientation program for all students who are new to the school; organize, administer, score, and interpret a standardized testing program; assist students in choosing their course of studies, planning for the wise use of their time, developing more effective study habits, and making tentative choices of goals for their life work; or counsel with students in matters involving educational, vocational, or personal social problems. Likewise, the counselor may collect and organize materials for students to read about such topics as occupations, personal, or social matters (such as etiquette or proper dress), and post-high school educational opportunities or may conduct group guidance meetings in which topics of special concern or interest to the age-group involved are discussed.