Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Gabriela Morales


This thesis explores the day-to-day realities for public high school counselors inside their schools. The national average student-to-counselor ratio in public high schools in the U.S. is 482:1. This is almost double the recommended counselor caseload by the American School Counselor Association, which recommends 250 students per counselor. However, counselors’ inflated caseloads are not the only reason why counselors are overworked. Using a year’s worth of ethnographic research, I analyze the bureaucratic and care labor practices of counselors and the ways in which their labor exploitation reflects years of neoliberal discourse influencing the functioning of public education. This neoliberalization of public education not only intensifies the bureaucratic labor that counselors must do on a daily basis, but also makes counselors perceive their frequent care labor as “unproductive.” Schools exploit counselors’ labor by depending on their care labor, while also relying on the pressure that counselors put on themselves to continue completing the bureaucratic labor demanded of them.