Mr. President, How I Won't Be Spending My Summer Vacation

Mr. President, I realize you're a busy man, and let me say, I envy you -- because right now, I'm not.

I'm supposed to be fine tuning the lessons I was going to present in the college advising class I teach each summer at Schoolcraft College in Livonia. Most counselors don't get this class as part of their professional training. This explains why most counselors feel so unprepared to help students make college plans, and why most students feel counselors aren't helpful when it comes to college advice.

This class tries to meet the need, and permit me to say, it's received amazing reviews from veteran counselors. They describe it as phenomenal, and tell me it's the best counseling class they have ever taken; so much so that there's an online version, and the first-ever class in Grand Rapids this year.

With all the good reviews, I was looking forward to teaching this year's class, and thanks to scholarship support from the Michigan College Access Network and the National Association for College Admission Counseling, I thought we'd have a full house for sure.

Instead, five counselors signed up. Five -- and two of those were scholarship recipients.

I got the news yesterday, and immediately tried to figure out what went wrong. Did we offer enough scholarships? Promote the class differently? Ignore a key audience?

And then it hit me. Counselors are amazingly busy people during the school year, and with caseloads increasing for many counselors -- or every school counselor in Philadelphia looking for work -- summer may not be the best time to offer the course. Given all they have to do, counselors are spending their summers practicing what they preach to their students about the need for balance. Yoga, reading, travels, staying up past 10:30; it makes perfect sense if they looked at this class and thought "Great content, but not now."

Fair enough, Mr. President -- but if summer is a bad time, and they're too busy to take classes during the school year, when is the best time to take a course that will help them do the college advising work that takes up at least 20 percent of their work day?

Before they start working, of course. And that's where you come in.

I have no idea how would-be counselors manage to teach all day and take required counseling classes at night, but that's how most of us prepared for our work, work we love and would like to do well. If counselors put the rest of their lives on hold for the years it takes to get ready to serve students, it makes sense that the courses we take get us ready to serve all students in all ways, college advising included.

I have no idea why less than 10 percent of the counselor training programs in the US don't offer a college advising class, or why a flood of recent data supporting the need for such a class isn't inspiring them to offer one. I only know students feel frustrated, counselors feel betrayed, and America's future feels incomplete.

An Executive Order could change all that, Mr. President. A college that trains counselors gets no federal funding if they don't offer a required college advising class, and K-12 schools only get their funds if the counselors they hire have the training. Quick, fast, effective governance that benefits everyone.

If you're wondering what this kind of class can do for students, families, and their counselors, I'd be happy to come by and talk with you about it.

As I mentioned, my summer is suddenly wide open.