38. What I Wished I Learned In Grad School

In this episode we’re shaking things up a bit as we explore the burning question: “What do you wish you learned in grad school?” The response from our amazing community has been overwhelming, and we’re excited to share the insights, experiences, and challenges faced by fellow counselors.

Tune in to this episode for a candid and intimate conversation that reaffirms you’re not alone in your journey as a counselor. The collective wisdom of our community awaits.

I hope this episode speaks to you and that if you feel like you have something that you can share, whether it’s advice for those that are maybe struggling a little bit or a question you have that you want answered, that you’ll drop me a line, that you’ll send me an email to Carol@counselingsentials.org, or you’ll leave a review on this podcast and ask that question or share your tip.

But whatever it is you do or connect, with me on Instagram or Facebook. Whatever you choose to do. I hope that you join in this conversation because there are so many things that I think we all wish that we learned while we were in grad school.

Send us your thoughts! Send us a voice message!



You're listening to the Counselor Chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in.

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Counselor Chat. We're going to do something a little bit different this week. So a few weeks ago, you might have remembered on Instagram and in the counselor Facebook groups, I asked the question, what I wish I learned in grad school, and let me tell you, my feed blew up. I did get several recordings from some counselors who shared their thoughts, but I also received probably hundreds of comments on this very topic, and they ranged from data tracking or how to write IEPs. How to do master scheduling, attendance interventions. Somebody even mentioned how to get a different career, which kind of is a little bit sad, but I know a lot of people can totally relate. But people were also asking about how to deescalate angry parents or how to be a 504 coordinator, because that's apparently what they do to learn more about data and about, really, how to get an LPC, as well as all the business side of things from the taxing and the credentialing and everything you have to fill out so that they can go into private practice. Besides being a school counselor. But there were just so many from also, like, from handling crying teachers in your room while trying to remain neutral, to running SST meetings or interventions to work with ADHD and anxiety. But probably the most common response that I received from counselors was behavior interventions. And so we're not going to really dive into that today, but from this, I'm going to be putting together some information for you guys on behavioral interventions. We have so many other counselors that also wanted to share their advice about what they wish they learned. I want to be able to give them some time to share with you as well. And while we're not really solving problems in this week episodes, I think what we're doing is just letting everyone out there know that you're not alone in some of these feelings that you're feeling that other people and other counselors from all over are asking these same questions. So maybe there's something in here that you can relate with. Maybe there's some things in here that you think, hey, I get that. I can help. Or maybe there's some other things that you wish that you had learned while you were in grad school. Anyway, I hope this episode speaks to you and that if you feel like you have something that you can share, whether it's advice for those that are maybe struggling a little bit or a question you have that you want answered, that you'll drop me a line, that you'll send me an email to Carol@counselingsentials.org, or you'll leave a review on this podcast and ask that question or share your dip. But whatever it is you do or connect, with me on Instagram or Facebook. Whatever you choose to do. I really hope that you join in this conversation because there are so many things that I think we all wish that we learned while we were in grad school. I know at 32 years in this game, I'm still questioning some things, and there are still a lot of things that I wished I learned. So without any further ado, I'm going to turn it over to some counselors from across the world.

Hi, Carol. This is Pat O'Connor, former high school counselor now working on the independent sector, doing college advocacy. Two things I guess I would say. First, I think it would be helpful for school counseling programs to really train counselors more in how to counsel to the crowds. It's really nice that everybody thinks that it should be 250 to one, but it just isn't, particularly here in Michigan, which is where I'm from, the Detroit area. I think it would be really helpful to arm people future counselors in the task of how to really create an effective curriculum, given the size of the landscape. So I think that would be the first thing. The second thing, as always, is I just think graduate school taught me nothing about college counseling. And though I want a more senior counselor, most of my junior colleagues tell me that graduate school basically didn't tell them anything about college counseling either. There's more to this than just taking the act and filling out some forms, and especially when most parents put such a heavy emphasis on post secondary training. I think a little more training than just 12 hours of career and 12 hours of counseling in a three credit class could cover. So those are the two things. Thanks for asking.

Something I wish I would have learned. My name is Jessica Cardin. I'm from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I work with elementary students kindergarten through fifth grade. And something I wish I would have learned in grad school was how to balance my role as a counselor to students as well as working with staff members, and that sometimes as the counselor, you will get staff members into your office and how to help them while setting appropriate boundaries for at work. Something else I really wish I would have learned or had more help with is special education and classroom management. Those are kind of things that I feel like, even as an elementary teacher, aren't necessarily touched upon enough. That really could be helpful.

Hi, Carol. My name is Natalie Kinsella. I'm a school counselor working in Michigan, and I currently work with students from grades PPK all the way up through fourth grade. And previously, I've worked with students from grades third grade up through 8th grade. One thing I wish I had learned in grad school was about the McKinney Vento law. McKinney Vento is a federal law that concerns homelessness and the rights of students that regardless of their home situation, that they have a right to attend school. And that's something I didn't learn about until I was doing my internship for school counseling. And even now, when I encounter others who work in the schools, not everyone knows that each district has a homeless liaison. And not everyone knows that being doubled up with living with another family also counts as homeless. So there were a lot of things about that law that I think would be really helpful for us to have learned in grad school. All right, great. Thank you so much.

My name is Jolene, and I'm in Nebraska, and I work with high school in grad school, I wish they would have taught us about grief counseling. I knew that it was a thing that I would have to do, but going into my first job, actually, in my internship, I had to deal with grief counseling within the first two weeks that I was there. And you have no idea how to do it. You don't know what to say. You don't know how to go about things. I was just flying by the seat of my pants, and since then, I've had to deal with it a couple of more times, unfortunately. And every single time, it is hard. It's hard to know what to say, what to do. The normal techniques that we learned for short term counseling and solution focused and everything like that, that doesn't work in grief counseling. So I wish I would have been more prepared for that. Also, as a high school counselor, I am the one that gets students prepared for college, applying for college, applying for scholarships, writing letters of recommendation, and everything like that. And when I started, I had no idea anything about I mean, other than my own college experiences. I had no clue how to advise students on college, where to apply, what things to look for, what programs were around me. I had moved to a completely different part of my state than where I was from, so the colleges around me were very unfamiliar to me. The programs around me were very unfamiliar to me and how to advise students on that. We didn't touch anything about college advising in my undergrad program or my grad program. I'm sorry. And so, yeah, I just wish that they would have touched on anything about college prep, because this is now my fourth year as a counselor, and although I'm way better at it, it is still something that I am uncomfortable with, especially when it comes to scholarships. It's hard for me to know where to find scholarships. It's hard for me to know how to advise students to go about finding scholarships. The FAFSA process, advising parents on that. I have no idea how to answer their questions, especially now this year that the FAFSA has changed. So just a lot of things going in that I was completely unprepared for. My Grad program made it seem like my counseling experience was going to be all individual counseling, small group counseling, and classroom lessons. And that is definitely not what my job is based on. I don't do group small groups. As a high school counselor, I am rarely in the classroom. I do a lot of one on one counseling, but there's so much more beyond that that I do. Yeah, I just think a lot of Grad programs can work on preparing their students better for this job.

Hi, my name is Carol. I'm from North Carolina. I'm in elementary school. I have K five or K through five. I have 568 students. I'm the only school counselor. I'm a brand new counselor, actually. I just graduated like just a few weeks ago. Some things I wish that I had better handle on as a new Grad is 504 process. When I've asked for help, I have not gotten a whole lot of feedback, positive feedback from administration. I do have a mentor, but she's at another school, so it's kind of hard for her to get out of her school to come and help me. Some other things is just classroom management. A lot of our classes have over 20 kids in them. And just being a new Grad, it's kind of her just hard just trying to get the management skills down. And what works for some of the kids don't work for all kids. So I'm kind of struggling with that just a little bit. And I just feel like having more time in a classroom instead of hours and hours and hours of studying the theories and blah, blah, blah would have been more helpful. And doing it both in a private and in a public school I feel is more beneficial because I did my internship in a private school, and when I came to a public school, it's a whole different world. So I wish that we had more time throughout our training to be able to go to a public school or a private school and get that training that we needed. I just feel like that would be a whole lot more beneficial, at least for me, because right now I'm kind of like I chick with my head cut off, running all over school, trying to serve the needs of the students, and I'm the kid of the teachers, and you're trying to get my other responsibilities done. Doing Purple Star doing toys for tots doing heart start It's a lot of responsibility that they kind of threw on me, and they really don't tell you that in grad school. That's just some of the things that come to my mind. I hope you guys enjoyed this. Maybe enlighten some people who haven't had the experience yet. And I wish everybody the best of luck. Bye.

What I wish I had learned in grad school is I wished I could have learned more clinical skills. We were really big on theory in my program, and so we learned a lot about our theoretical frameworks, but then not a lot of clinical skills within those frameworks. So a student would come to me and say, I'm struggling with my anger, and I would know that I'm a solution person, focused DBT counselor, but I wouldn't know what to recommend for them, what skills. So that would be the biggest thing that I wish I had learned in my program.

Hi, my name is Caitlin Williams and I live in North Carolina, and one of my biggest tips for school counselors is to do your best to leave work at work. I definitely did not do that when I started out on my school counseling journey just because I was so passionate about it. I was passionate about kids, and I'm glad I was. And I also learned that when I carried every single piece of the job with me around twenty four, seven, I was not the best friend, the best daughter, the best wife that I could be, and I also wasn't serving my students very well. So what I learned was when I leave work at work and take it back out full force, when I come back in the morning, I serve everyone in my community much better, and I am better for my family at home.

So, my friends, I'm sure that you can tell that you are not alone in some of those things that you wish that you had learned while you were in grad school too. I mean, as you could tell, we keep mentioning, or people keep mentioning the same things over and over again. If you have anything that you want to share or talk about, I really would love to hear from you. So please get in touch, stay in touch, be in touch with me, whether it's on Facebook or Instagram or email, I would love to hear from you. I think it's so much fun to hear your voices and the things that are on your mind and sharing ideas, really. That's why I actually started this podcast, so that we're not alone, that there's other people that are going through this with us. That if we have some advice or we have tips or we've learned something along the way, that we can share it because there are plenty of things that we have questions about. So my friends, until the next time we chat, I hope you have a great week. Bye for now.

Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat.

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