A new breed of consultants--those who help teen-agers through the rigmarole of college applications, financial aid forms and standardized tests--may soon face competition from the Capistrano Unified School District. The district has tentatively decided to open a free counseling center outside the high school.
The district's proposal, which awaits confirmation from the board of trustees July 21, would place a full-time guidance counselor and a part-time psychologist in a San Juan Capistrano storefront office. The pair would offer career and college guidance. The office also would set early morning and evening hours so working parents could come with their children, said William Eller, assistant superintendent of instructional operations.
In effect, the outside counseling center would be "private, more individualized and go further" than high school counseling services, Eller said.
School officials say the center is not aimed at taking away business from private consultants. "I'm sure there will still be parents that will take their kids to educational consultants. We feel we can provide the same services at no cost," Eller said.
Or as district trustee A. Edward Westberg put it: "There are certain people who feel whenever you pay for something you get a better job done."
Westberg said he conceived the idea of a satellite counseling center when he was talking to students. Students told him they are occasionally "a little apprehensive" about approaching counselors because counselors handle both discipline and career and college planning, he said.
"The same guy who caught you smoking is now telling you about college," Westberg explained. "The concept was to move some counseling away from the high school and make students feel more comfortable."
Funding for the $100,000 counseling office is to come from the school district's portion of state lottery funds, Eller said.
Eller stressed that the center would try to reach all types of students, those who are college-bound and "those who want to find out how you go about getting a job you can make a living at," he said.