School Counseling Graduate Programs Student Profile

Read a counseling student’s account of choosing the best school program.


Nancy Brandes
DePaul University, Chicago
MA in Educational Counseling

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With an undergraduate degree in marketing, Nancy Brandes never anticipated finding her calling in school counseling several years after graduation.

Living in Chicago, where the pace is fast and the competition tough, Nancy Brandes found that surviving in a big city was more a priority than fulfilling her dreams in marketing.

She landed a series of “survival jobs” before settling into an unrelated career in financial securities.

Making a Change

Sometimes we make changes in our lives and sometimes change comes to us without warning. Such was the case with Nancy, whose job was eliminated after the economic slump. Rather than letting it upset her, she took the layoff as an opportunity to re-evaluate what she wanted in a career. With a desire to be of service to people and positively affect their lives, Nancy decided it was time to research school counseling graduate programs.

Choosing a Master’s Program and School

DePaul University in Chicago was Nancy’s top choice of counseling schools. After compiling her transcripts, references and seven pages detailing her motivation toward a counseling career, she was accepted.

She chose DePaul for all the right reasons:

  • Location – “They’re right in the city, where I want to be.”
  • Reputation – “They have an excellent reputation in the Chicago area. I also had a friend who went there and loved it.”
  • Programming – “The counseling program at DePaul meets the requirements set by the American School Counseling Association.”

Paying for School

In addition to student loans and government financial aid, Nancy is involved in a work/study program at DePaul. “I work in the Academic Resource Center, updating their website. Being a school employee means I get my tuition paid for. It’s a way for me to go to school and work at the same time.”

Working in the Academic Resource Center has helped Nancy further define her goals in counseling as well. She is leaning toward a specialty in school counseling and hopes to find an internship either in DePaul’s student affairs office, or at a local high school.

Completion Time of a School Counseling Degree

It will take Nancy three years to become a professional school counselor. The first two years are dedicated to earning her master’s degree, and the following year she will begin working as a practitioner. During her first year of practice, she will be supervised by a licensed counselor. She will also be documenting 300 hours of service in order to qualify for the counseling licensing exam.

“It’s a job for helping people,” she says. Whether she’s working at the college level, high school, or helping adults learn new job skills, Nancy has chosen this profession so that she can make a positive difference in people’s lives.

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