The Rise of E-Counseling Services

High school guidance counselors play a key role in helping students prepare for college, set career goals and decide which higher ed institution is the best fit.  For low-income kids and those whose parents didn’t go to college, guidance counselors are an especially important resource.

In recent years a number of college advocacy groups have sprung up using technology to jump-start the slow growth of low-income students in higher education.  The American School Counselor Association recommends no more than 250 students per guidance counselor, but the nationwide average is nearly twice that -- with California at 663-to-1 ratio.

Virtual guidance-counseling services have grown with both new services and existing ones leveraging technology – mobile, social media and data analytics – to boost access and engagement.

CollegePoint

CollegePoint will match a student with an advisor who provides personalized college application and financial aid support.  Its services are free.

A virtual version of the after-school workshop — CollegePoint emails students timely information and tips about everything from financial aid to homesickness in their freshman years, followed by phone calls or web chats with trained counselors at least once a month, and more frequently if the student needed it.

PeerForward

PeerForward trains, deploys, and coaches a team of high school juniors and seniors as Peer Leaders who are charged with boosting college preparation and enrollment across their entire school. They mobilize friends and classmates to realize their true college and career potential.

It digitizes the lessons in the textbooks it uses to publish offering tips on writing essays, finding scholarships, and identifying quality colleges that match student interests.

PeerForward also hosts free college-guidance apps on their LinkForward website.

iCouldBe

icouldbe.org partners with schools to integrate mentoring into their existing curriculum, giving mentees and e-mentors college prep and career planning activities to focus their online conversation.   E-mentors are also able to give feedback to improve a mentee's written communication skills, including spelling, grammar and style.

Additionally, mentees have access to the larger icouldbe community through discussion boards.

iCouldbe tracks the interactions on its own online platform to understand how effective the mentor/mentee engagements are so they can identify areas for improvement, better train mentors and improve the mentorships overall.

iMentor

iMentor matches low-income high school students with professionals in a variety of fields for multiyear mentoring that blends virtual and in-person interactions, increasingly focused on college success.

iMentor launched a mobile device–ready, multimedia platform that incorporates document sharing for writing feedback as well as videos to prompt real-time conversations and advising.