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American School Counselor Association (ASCA) - A Deep Dive

The independent education consultancy field is an ever-changing and adapting field, so keeping up-to-date on the latest trends is deeply important. As such, taking advantage of any resources available to you as a college counselor will be crucial for you to build credibility for your clients and create a network of trusted colleagues. 

One such resource that is particularly applicable for you is the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). ASCA provides many benefits for their members, which are school and college counselors. Joining an organization like ASCA might help you to branch out your business, network with professionals in the field, and remain up-to-date on the newest trends in the education consultancy space.

What is ASCA?

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a professional organization dedicated to supporting school counselors in their pivotal role of promoting the academic, career, and social-emotional development of students. With a membership of approximately 43,000 school counseling professionals, ASCA focuses on providing professional development, enhancing school counseling programs and researching effective school counseling practices. 

Established to ensure that every student has access to comprehensive and developmentally appropriate school counseling programs, ASCA provides education, certification, and advocacy to advance the profession. The association offers resources, professional development opportunities, and research to enhance the skills and knowledge of school counselors, enabling them to effectively address the diverse needs of students. Through setting ethical standards, advocating for favorable student-to-counselor ratios, and promoting the critical role of school counselors, ASCA aims to optimize student success and well-being in schools nationwide.

How can I apply for ASCA?

There are multiple membership tiers within ASCA, and it’s recommended to apply to the right one that best fits your current status. The categories are as follows:

  • Professional Membership ($129 annually): School counseling professionals who hold a master’s degree or higher in school counseling or the substantial equivalent and are employed as school counselors; supervisors of school counselors or school counseling at the school, district or state level; or professors of counseling in a graduate program that prepares school counselors are eligible for Professional membership. This is a voting membership type.

  • Retired Membership ($69 annually): Professional members in retirement are eligible for retired membership. This is a voting membership type. It does not include member liability insurance.

  • Student Membership ($69 annually): Students enrolled in a master’s level program that prepares school counselors are eligible for student membership. This is a nonvoting membership type. (Doctoral students who meet the requirements for Professional membership may join in that category; otherwise, see Affiliate category.)

  • Affiliate Membership ($129 annually): Individuals interested in school counseling, who are not eligible for any other type of membership, may become affiliate members. This is a nonvoting category.

There are many ways to join the organization, according to their Join/Renew page. Perhaps the easiest way is to pay online with a credit or debit card after creating on account on ASCA, although you’ll be able to pay over the phone, with a check, or with a purchase order. The membership form will be used to determine your personal details, profession, and type of membership tier. 

Once your account is created, you will be able to login on their website and see the status of your membership, where you’ll be able to keep your information and preferences up-to-date.

What are resources available to me as an ASCA member?

1. Events & Professional Development

Joining the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) as a college counselor unlocks a wealth of opportunities for events and professional development, designed to enhance skills, knowledge, and networking within the field. One of the cornerstone offerings is the ASCA Annual Conference, a premier event that gathers thousands of counseling professionals for workshops, keynote speeches, and sessions led by experts in college readiness, admissions, and counseling. This event not only provides cutting-edge insights into best practices and emerging trends but also offers a platform for college counselors to connect with peers, share experiences, and collaborate on innovative solutions to common challenges. The upcoming 2024 Annual Conference will take place in Kansas City, Missouri from July 13th to July 16th. Registration for the conference is currently open for both in-person and virtual attendees, and registering on or after May 1st will result in additional late fees. 

Beyond the annual conference, ASCA provides a variety of professional development resources, including webinars, specialized training programs, and certification opportunities. These resources cover a broad range of topics relevant to college counseling, from student mental health and well-being to college application strategies and financial aid advising. ASCA's commitment to continuous learning ensures that members have access to the latest research, tools, and techniques to support students effectively in their transition to higher education. For example, ASCA provides an online, self-paced U Specialist Training program, which includes the necessary classes one needs to take in order to become a skilled counselor; the program is extensive in resources, such as books, articles, webinars, podcasts, and quizzes. 

Moreover, ASCA's focus on advocacy and professional standards helps college counselors navigate the complexities of their role with confidence and integrity. By participating in ASCA's events and professional development opportunities, college counselors are better equipped to guide students towards successful post-secondary paths, making ASCA membership an invaluable asset in their professional toolkit.

2. Publication & Research Opportunities

Membership in the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) offers college counselors unparalleled access to a rich repository of publications and research, serving as a key advantage for professionals seeking to base their practice on evidence-based strategies and the latest insights in the field. ASCA's flagship publication, the "Professional School Counseling Journal," is a peer-reviewed academic journal that delivers cutting-edge research, practical interventions, and innovative approaches directly applicable to college counseling. This resource is instrumental in keeping counselors informed about the latest findings and methodologies that can enhance their effectiveness in guiding students through the college selection, application, and decision-making processes.

In addition to the journal, ASCA members receive regular newsletters and updates that highlight current trends, policy changes, and best practices in school counseling. These publications ensure that college counselors are well-informed about the broader educational landscape, including changes in college admissions policies, scholarship opportunities, and the socio-emotional factors influencing college-bound students.

ASCA also provides special reports and position statements on critical issues affecting education and college counseling, such as college access, equity, and inclusion. These resources not only inform counselors about the challenges and opportunities within the profession but also equip them with the knowledge to advocate for their students and the counseling profession at large. By integrating ASCA's publications and research into their practice, college counselors can significantly enhance their service to students, ensuring that their guidance is both comprehensive and current.

3. Liability Insurance

A unique benefit of joining the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) for college counselors is the access to professional liability insurance. This coverage is a crucial safeguard, providing protection against potential legal claims that may arise in the course of their counseling duties. In the complex landscape of college admissions and counseling, where the advice and guidance provided can significantly impact a student's future, the risk of encountering legal challenges, however unintended, is real.

ASCA's liability insurance offers a layer of security, allowing college counselors to perform their roles with greater confidence and peace of mind. This insurance covers a range of potential legal issues, from allegations of professional negligence to unintentional breaches of confidentiality. The availability of this insurance through ASCA membership demonstrates the association's commitment to supporting counselors not just in their professional development but also in their need for professional protection. It underscores the importance of being prepared for all aspects of the profession, making liability insurance an indispensable advantage of ASCA membership for college counselors.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, ASCA membership offers college counselors a comprehensive suite of benefits designed to empower their practice and support their professional journey. From enriching professional development opportunities and exclusive access to cutting-edge research and publications to the practical security of liability insurance, ASCA equips college counselors with the tools they need to excel in their vital role. 

These advantages underscore the value of ASCA membership in fostering a community of well-informed, proficient, and protected professionals dedicated to guiding students through the pivotal transition to higher education, making it an indispensable resource for college counselors committed to excellence. Overall, we recommend that joining ASCA will be a wise investment for a school or college counselor’s career.

If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 

Image Source: ASCA logo



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