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True North Living » Live » The Future of Guidance Counselling? Free Online Appointments Help More Students

A student’s academic success depends on a variety of factors – which is why an online high school is prioritizing counselling services.

For the first time in recorded history, a person’s mental health and wellness is being upheld to the same level of importance as physical health. Institutions that once dismissed any type of assistance have changed their tune – especially schools.

Over the past decades, the percentage of Canadian high school students who pursue post-secondary education has soared. It’s arguable that this directly correlates with schools increasing accessibility to proper student support.

Students require assistance with a myriad of topics including mental health, home life, balancing their school and social lives, and more. Plus, many benefit from academic guidance as they make crucial decisions about their post-secondary education. However, most institutions don’t have the resources to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for student advisory programs.

Restructuring the system

The very structure of guidance counselling in high schools is flawed – there’s often a limited number of counsellors who are responsible for large student bodies. In addition, only 14% of Ontario elementary schools offer some sort of guidance services at all.* Plus, the pandemic has escalated and intensified a student’s need for academic and personal assistance as many are facing more pressure and stress than ever before.

“The uncertainty and instability of school as a result of the pandemic increases the probability that students will need more support with post-secondary pathways and mental health,” explains Dwayne Matthews, Future of Education Strategist and Advisory Board Member at the Ontario Virtual School (OVS).  

A leading online education provider, Ontario Virtual School (OVS) students have a 98% university acceptance rate, making them one of the most successful Canadian high schools in university preparation. Beyond that, they’re determined to increase access to guidance counsellors for students of all ages and backgrounds – even if they don’t attend OVS themselves.

Access for anyone

A unique thought leader, OVS is approaching guidance counselling in innovative ways that other schools cannot, especially during the pandemic. “We can reach more students than traditional day schools,” adds Dwayne. “In a time when many school boards are reducing or eliminating guidance, we’re expanding.”

With large-scale online accessibility, OVS provides free phone or video chat counselling services from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. “Students can discuss academic programming requirements for career related planning,” says Dr. Denese Belchetz, who works in Educational Consulting Services and is on OVS’s Advisory Board. They can also get help with graduation requirements, course selections, applications, reskilling, personal and mental support, and other academic questions.

All their counsellors are Ontario Certified Teachers and students can even invite other academic advisors, family members, or tutors to their counselling sessions. “Students will be guided through their academic and personal journeys while developing strong lifelong skills like self-management, communication and interpersonal relations, self-acceptance, and self-esteem,” Denese adds.

Set up for success

Founded on the belief that every student can reach their full potential when they engage in active, supportive learning, OVS is dedicated to helping as many students with their academic and personal wellbeing as possible.

“In the information era it is critical that children have specialists that advocate for them via advice and pathways,” explains Dwayne. “The key to student success is not just hard work, it is also access to resources and knowledge.”


*“Guiding Students to Success: Ontario’s School Guidance Programs.” People for Education. June 20, 2018. Accessed December 17, 2021.

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