By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is the season in which high school seniors are preparing college applications with the help of school counselors.

But Philadelphia public high school students have a tougher job.  The funding crisis has caused the district to slash the number of counselors (see related story).

In the meantime, nonprofit groups and local colleges are doing their best to construct a patchwork support system for high school seniors hoping to attend college.

The University of Pennsylvania and Community College of Philadelphia are offering special workshops. Temple is reaching out directly to secondary schools.

Philadelphia Futures is blanketing schools with its “Step Up to College” guide, but Ann-Therese Ortiz, its director of pre-college programs, says these efforts can’t truly compensate for the counselor shortage.

“The counselors who are left in the schools have an insurmountable task ahead of them,” she tells KYW Newsradio, “and I think what’s going to be really hard here is there are going to be unavoidable gaps, no matter what.  I think the impact of this is going to be huge.  It’s severe, and I can’t imagine how the school system can move forward with such limited numbers of counselors.”

Ortiz calls the situation “a tragedy.”