It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. Globally, thousands of men and women have dedicated themselves to the task of helping high school students navigate the convoluted maze that is the college admissions process. As the pressure for students to get into the perfect school mounts, how can high schoolers get the most out of their school’s guidance counselor? In honor of National School Counseling Week, here at TestRocker we have come up with 10 ways to make sure your school’s guidance counselor is your biggest asset and advocate throughout the college application process.
1. Be proactive and start early
You may not realize it but there are a number of resources at your disposal throughout the college application process. In order to effectively leverage all of these resources, you should ask questions, remain informed and start early. For this reason you should feel comfortable asking counselors for additional resources and information – financial aid information, SAT or ACT registration information, your current transcript, scholarships, or even introductions to current students at the colleges you are interested in.
2. Be prepared
Spend some time thinking about your academic and career aspirations. Which colleges align most with these desires? The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The Insider’s Guide to Colleges are two resources that can help jumpstart your research. Have a sense of how you are doing academically and your current GPA. Based on this initial research compile a wish list of colleges.
3. Respect their time
Schedule appointments with your guidance counselor in advance. The extra time will allow them to prepare for your meeting, and allow you to prepare as well.
4. Simplify their lives
In addition to being prepared it is important to make things as simple for your counselors as possible. For example if your counselor will be writing your recommendations provide them with self-addressed envelopes for the schools of your choice.
5. Communicate your desires
Once you have completed your initial research and scheduled your appointment, get ready to have an honest conversation with your school’s guidance counselor about what you view as the ideal outcome. Use your counselor to gauge which of your goals are attainable and which goals might take a bit more work to make a reality.
6. Seek their input
In addition to informing your decision about which schools to apply to, your counselor can also provide advice about your class schedule. Should you take an AP class? Can you take that new language class and still complete all your requirements? In order for your counselors to be as helpful as possible it is important to clue them into all of your decision-making. Let your counselor know what tests you plan to take, share your scores, and studying strategies.
7. Raise red flags early
If you are not where you would want to be academically, or your SAT score is not where you want it to be, communicate these concerns to your guidance counselor. Together you can develop a strategy to address these issues.
8. Avoid the crunch
Ask your counselor to help you prioritize – there are many tasks ahead, and while you will of course need to find your own way to stay organized, counselors can give you a better sense of the order in which things need to be done
9. Listen and take their advice
Counselors have been doing this work for years. They know what they are doing!
10. Show your appreciation
Once you have submitted all of your applications, and gotten into the school of your dreams, do not forget to stay in touch! Send your counselor a thank you card to express your gratitude!
Did you find these tips helpful? Leave us a comment and let us know how you make the most of your school’s guidance counselor. Also sign-up for a TestRocker webinar to learn more about our online SAT prep program