Young students are often confused about their subjects, their friends, their workload, and the dynamics of their family in conjunction to school. If you enjoy being around school-aged children and want to help them have success, you may want to study to become a School Psychologist.
Young people spend more time at school than they do at home. Often, what happens to them at school shapes the adult they will one day become. This process of attending school is filled with a lot of scary first time events. For many school aged children, when they start and attend school, is the first time they are away from home for any length of time, the first time they form friends, the first time they taste success, and the first time they encounter defeat. As a School Psychologist, you can be there to help them navigate these complex waters. Talk to your local school about joining this rewarding field of study.
What is School Psychology?
This relatively new branch of psychology will involve hands-on contact with children for many reasons. It will be filled with much laughter, and a few tears. You will help to smooth out parent and child disagreements, help with complex in-class issues, create schedules, advocate for the child with all adults involved, and overall build healthy and happy environments where children can learn.
The American Psychology Association (APA), in 1954, held a seminar at West Point, New York. The Thayer Conference, as it was called, was held in order to dialogue about the role of the school psychologist and their job duties. The APA officially recognized the genre of School Psychology in 1968.To join this group of very important people, you will need to take a certain selection of classes as you work towards your degree. You will be encouraged to obtain both your Bachelor’s degree and your Master’s degree. Your Master’s degree may be in Psychology or it may be an Education Specialist degree.
The NSP (National Association of School Psychologists) determines the classes to be taken and monitors the various collegiate programs. It also requires an internship, and a passing score on a school psychology exam called the Praxis II. You can get a complete list of classes to be taken from your local school. You will take math, science, English, humanities, and history core classes. You may also have to successfully complete the following classes:
• Generally Psychology
• Bullying and the Classroom
• Early Education
• School Scheduling
• Practices of Teaching
• The History of Child Psychology
• Internship and Case Studies in the Field
If you want to also go for obtaining your PhD, you will need at least two-five years of research and study, an internship, and a dissertation on your approved and selected topic. Once you have obtained the exact degree you want, you will then have several choices as to how to use it. There are many job offerings for a person with a degree in Child Psychology.
As you get closer to being awarded your degree, you will want to discuss you career options with your local college’s career center. As a School Psychologist, you could be doing something as easy as drying the tears of a child on the first day of school or as complex as assisting the legal system with the removal of a child from an abusive home. Some possible career choices might be:
• Remote School Psychologist
• Police or Legal Advocate for School Aged Students
• Research and Case study scientist
• Guidance Counselor
• Career Counselor
• Grief Counselor
• Private Practice School Psychologist
• Professor of Psychology
• School Nurse Advocate
• Child Services Aide
• Management for Field Psychologists
• Home Schooling Advocate and Advisor
• Juvenile Detention Center Counselor
• Court Counselor
• Orphanage Counselor
• Hospital Counselor
You may be located at a school, hospital, prison, or other similar facility. The hours of work will not be restricted to school hours and you will have some on-call rotations. Some jobs will require traveling to different facilities. At first, you will work under the direction and close supervision of an experienced School Psychologist. This supervision may last up to two years. Once you know what field most interests you, you will want to talk to your college advisor for further direction.
Taking the Next Step
Getting closer to your dream of being a School Psychologist is easy. Call, email, or visit your local school. The finances, curriculum, career outlook, and personal attention you will receive will help you begin on your journey.
College counseling is a career area that you can pursue through a certificate program after completing your undergraduate degree program. Although these certificate programs are intended for individuals who are currently working as counselors, admissions personnel, or teachers, anyone who has a bachelor’s degree can work to obtain their certification. A certificate program for college counseling generally consists of between three and seven courses that will take you less than two years to complete. You will receive specific training that will help you know how to appropriately guide junior high and senior high school students, along with their families, as they apply to colleges of their choosing. Your formal training will help you be better prepared to complete college applications, to know the ins and outs of standardized testing, and to be familiar with the admissions selection criteria that many colleges and universities use.
As you train to become a college counselor you should expect to complete required course work such as: college counseling strategies, college admissions protocols, educational ethics, financial aid planning, career counseling, and counseling program implementation. Many learning institutions will pay specific attention to appropriate methods for working with special student populations or student populations who are underrepresented. Upon completion of your certificate program you should expect to be required to also complete a licensing requirement.
These requirements typically vary from one state to another, so you will want to be familiar with what is required by the state you live in. In addition, once you have obtained your licensure you will have to complete continuing education hours in order to maintain it and remain able to practice your profession. It is important to understand that in order to become a school counselor (at the high school level, elementary school level, or at the college level) you will likely have to have obtained your master’s degree. Some states will allow their prospective college counselors to obtain national board certification as opposed to getting their state licensure. For instance, you could pursue licensure through the National Certified School Counselor organization.
In your capacity as a college counselor you will spend much of your time helping high school students determine a feasible career path, an appropriate college or university to attend, and the type of classes that he or she will need to take once they begin working on their degree program. It is common for college counselors to also be considered as college admissions counselors. In this capacity, you would be advising individuals as to the best route to take in order to gain admittance to the college or university of their choice. You may also be responsible for helping these individuals apply for and secure financial aid from appropriate avenues. It will be likely that you will also need to help students identify their academic strengths and weaknesses, choose an educational and career path accordingly, choose classes that will help achieve their goals, and guide them in successfully adapting to college life.
With your degree and formal training you will be eligible to work in educational centers, high schools, tutoring centers, career service institutions, colleges, or universities. You can expect to work typical office hours, though occasional afternoon and weekend hours during peak seasons may be a necessity. You may also be required to travel to local job fairs, local college fairs, and other post-secondary events. Since you will be interacting with students, parents, and college level colleagues it will be important that you can effectively communicate regarding issues of college admission and enrollment. As a college counselor it will be possible for you to work within a college advisory group or as a self-employed consultant.