Let’s start with this…..applying to college is your responsibility. The sooner you accept that concept, the easier your life will be. Once you have a grasp on the idea of making the first, important, most influential decision of your life, tackling the details will seem easy. The best way to help your college counselor help you is to do your research, explore and make an informed decision.
Research begins with understanding the resources available to you. Start with your School Counseling office. Do you know who your counselor is? If not, check the website. Now you know who contact, reach out via email and request to make an appointment to meet with them about your post-secondary plans. Depending on your school, there may be a separate counselor designated to handle all things college related or maybe your counselor is the source for high school and college matters.
Before the meeting: write down a list of questions you have and actually see which questions can be answered by visiting your school’s website or respective college of choice’s website.
During the meeting: write down the answers to your remaining questions and clarify anything you do not understand.
After the meeting: follow up with the counselor thanking them for their time and then get to work on the items discussed in your meeting.
Explore your college options. Not only does it cost money to attend college, it also costs money to apply to college. With that in mind, use the Internet and social media to help you decide which colleges you may want to visit and ultimately apply to. Check with your school counselor on any fee waivers that may be available to you or any specific college visit events of interest. Also, ask your counselor if they have visited any of the schools you’re considering; their perspective from visiting may be helpful.
After your campus tours, circle back to your school counselor and tell them about your visit. It’s a win-win to share with them what you liked or didn’t like about your visit. Now, it’s time to move on to applying to the colleges you’re interested in. Another opportunity for your school counselor to help you! Most likely, you will be “strongly encouraged” to submit a letter of recommendation. It wouldn’t hurt to ask your counselor to highlight certain qualities about you as a person and your academic strengths.
Making an informed decision takes practice. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for this moment. After you receive your admission decisions, let your counselor know. Most likely, they will be one of the first to help you celebrate! They will also be a valuable resource about how to make sense of financial aid packages and helping you make the best decision.
After all, your counselors are managing a lot more than a handful of students. Now that you have navigated this process successfully, apply the same techniques in the future with your college advisor. Your preparation and patience will serve you greatly over this year. What are you waiting for? Set up a meeting with your new best friend!
By Allyson Brown, Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity and Inclusion