If you are in your senior year of high school, congratulations! You have entered one of the most exciting years of your life, a time when you’ll be exploring colleges, making your final list of the schools where you will apply, applying, and finally getting accepted. Talk about change! Your high school guidance counselor can be a great help to you during all of those steps. However, here’s something sobering to think about. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, guidance counselors in many high schools are working with hundreds of students at the same time and, in some schools, more than 1,000. You therefore run the risk of getting little attention from your high school guidance counselor, unless you take some steps to be sure that you stand out from the crowd and seem like a student who is worthy of attention.
Tips for Working With Your High School Guidance Counselor
Here are some suggestions for getting that to happen:
- Drop in regularly and keep your counselor aware of your college-hunting activities. You will stand out even if you just pop in to say something like, “I visited the University of Michigan last weekend, and really liked it!” or "I'm thinking of enrolling in an online college course so I can get some of my prereqs out of the way when I start college, do you have any suggestions?"
- Encourage your favorite teachers to speak to your counselor about your college interests. If you are interested in majoring in fine arts, for example, ask your art teacher to visit your counselor to stress how important it is to help you select the right school.
- Make a list of your greatest accomplishments and give it to your guidance counselor. At some point, you will ask him or her to write a college recommendation letter for you. Many students wait until the end of the year before asking their counselors about this. Others never talk to their counselors at all – they simply let their counselors write anything they want. But if you speak to your counselor early in the school year and point up your special qualifications in a written list, you will stand out from the crowd and earn some special attention.
- Ask questions that require thoughtful answers. If you go to your counselor and ask a question that requires some digging on his or her part, you will stand out from other kids. For example, “I am interested in studying video game technology, but having a hard time finding schools that are strong in that area. Can you help me?”
- Encourage your parents to attend all college-related events at your school, and to talk with your counselor. When your counselor knows your parents by name and understands that they are involved in your college-selection process, you are likely to command an extra measure of attention. You certainly don’t want your parents to seem demanding, overbearing, or pushy. But you do want them to be visible. You guidance counselor should know who they are, and that they are involved.
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