I completely agree with you! Even outside of specific college counselors, high school students need all the help they can get in any form, whether that be from older siblings and students, teachers, etc. I know that when I was applying for college, I tried to utilize as many sources of help and insight as possible to make the process easier.
Unfortunately, I have also seen firsthand the detriment of less dedicated college counselors. I have had friends who did not get to attend their dream universities due to their college counselors failing to submit required paperwork and not giving sufficient information to students. Even though the situation eventually worked out for my friends, I imagine there are many more students who didn't have as ideal a story. Thus, it is critical that more focus is placed on making sure college counselors are helping students effectively.
Thank you for your comment and links! I wish I had looked into the Financial Literacy Challenge earlier because I'm now finding some really innovative ideas there -- especially "My Money and Me"! I have seen Rock the Vote's effect on voter turnout and think that it has had a very positive impact on altering the perception of voting for young adults. I think that a similar program dealing with financial literacy could likewise make young people, especially students, excited and interested in their finances -- at least, I know I would be interested in such a program!
I think your debit/credit metaphor is very interesting as well. In a financial literacy course that students at my university were required to take, we were warned about being targeted constantly by credit card companies for student credit cards. While some of these cards may have inherent benefits in that they can help build a strong credit score, etc., the danger comes (as you mentioned) in the intangible nature of credit cards and the ease in which cardowners can push off the paying off of their debt. Similarly, there is a real danger for students to keep putting off loan repayments in favor of seemingly more urgent financial needs. Ultimately, it comes down to better educating students on intelligently handling their finances.