Top 10 Ways to Engage School Counselors as Allies in the Effort to Increase Student Access to Computer Science Education and Careers

 



School counselors are eager to direct students to viable education and career opportunities. Consider these key points for collaboration as you plan to meet with counselors to discuss ways their professional responsibilities align with your goals to increase student access to computing.

 
 

1

"Demystify" CS

Counselors guide students to your courses when they understand what computer science is and what the courses are like.

Tip: Meet with counselors and share an introductory lesson from your curriculum or an “unplugged” activity so they experience computational thinking first hand.

Tip: The beauty of CS is that it is project-based and results in artifacts of learning that can be shared. Send students to the counseling center to share their projects and excitement about CS.

 
 

2

“Reposition” Computing and Computing Jobs

CS isn’t just for students who will pursue computing after high school. The computational thinking that underpins CS is fundamental to success in many fields, and in life!

Tip: Share the Google-sponsored Careers with Code magazine (careerswithcode.com), which presents many interesting expressions of computing across disciplines and fields.

 
 

3

Help Counselors and Students See That Tech Jobs Are Everywhere

Counselors direct students to viable job opportunities, but may think that computing professionals only work in Silicon Valley or in tech hubs in big cities.

Tip: Explain that computing underpins modern innovation in fields students care about, such as healthcare and digital arts, and that 50% of computing jobs are outside the tech sector and in every industry.

 
 

4

Examine the Master Schedule for Unintended Obstacles

Counselors can shape the school’s master schedule to make it amenable to student participation in CS.

Tip: Are students unable to enroll in CS because of a course scheduling conflict? With your counselor, identify and resolve systemic barriers that affect who takes CS. Lay the foundation for a year-to-year course progression that provides students with comprehensive and sustained experiences in computing.

 
 

5

Use Data to Track Who Takes CS and Set Goals for Broadening Participation

Counselors can contribute to setting and accomplishing class composition goals. The composition of your class should be as diverse as English or social studies classes.

Tip: Examine school data to evaluate computer science enrollment patterns. Set shared goals for changing the composition of CS classes so they are representative of the student body.

 
 

6

Present CS as a Way to Achieve More Equitable Outcomes for All Students

Counselors care about equity and social justice and are motivated to guide students to studies that prepare them for quality jobs. Partner with counselors to advocate for all students to have access to CS.

Tip: Share data around the underrepresentation of women and other groups in computing. Ask counselors what you might do together to change the equation.

 
 

7

Paint a Fresh Picture of Who “Does Computing”

As with the general public, counselors may have a narrow sense of who is “right” for computing.

Tip: Have an excited student drop by the counseling center and share what she created with CS. Tell her to say what she likes about studying computer science.

 
 

8

Recruit Strategically

It’s hard to be in the minority, especially when you’re a teen or preteen. Students from traditionally underrepresented groups feel a greater sense of belonging if people like them are in class.

Tip: Together with counselors, actively recruit students of shared backgrounds or interest. Suggest they recruit in groups, for instance, from the girl’s soccer team.

 
 

9

Introduce People Who Do the Work

Counselors meet with students for grade-specific career development each year.

Tip: Help counselors show students what their future may hold by presenting them with engaging and diverse role models. They can invite computing professionals, school alumni studying CS, or NCWIT Aspirations winners to the school career fair or plan for a class visit.

 
 

10

Infuse Computing Into Existing Activities in the School Calendar

Counselors plan school-wide events into which CS can be infused. How might CS connect to Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week, Kindness Campaigns, Field, Spirit or Mix-It-Up-at-Lunch days?

Tip: You don’t have to go it alone. Strategize with your school counselor about incorporating CS themes into the school’s events calendar. While you’re at it, invite your school counselor on CS-related field trips.

 
 
NCWIT Counselors for Computing provides professional school counselors with information and resources they can use to support ALL students as they explore computer science education and careers. ncwit.org/c4c
 

Related Resources

Order these resources for use with your counselor colleagues: