As schools cut budgets, strains on counselors grow

By CHRISTINE ARMARIO | June 24, 2011 | 2:00 PM EDT

COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) — High school counselors are finding themselves with higher caseloads as districts across the country trim their budgets.

A South Florida high school counselor now handles about 800 students, 200 more than she previously worked with. And her caseload isn't unusual. The average public school counselor in the United States has 457 students. In some states, those numbers are higher.

High caseloads mean one-on-one attention with students is often limited. One survey of first-year college students found that half felt they were treated like "just another face in the crowd."

Counselors and academics who have studied the impact of counseling say it is crucial in order to help students make the right career and college decisions, and note that many developed countries dedicate significantly more time and resources to it.