As seniors receive their admissions decisions, high school juniors should use the first few weeks in April to set up one-to-one meetings with their guidance counselors. Regardless of whether or not you attend a large public high school or a small private school, your guidance counselor is bound to be very busy. In an effort to make the most of the little time you’ll have together, heed my advice and begin forging your relationship early:
1. Make an appointment.
Most students do not realize that their guidance counselors wear many different hats. Dropping in between classes or during lunch will not be beneficial for either of you. To get your guidance counselor’s full attention, schedule a twenty-minute appointment two weeks in advance and use it as an opportunity to discuss your college plans.
2. Know your academic credentials.
I am often surprised by how frequently students have no idea how they’re currently doing in class. Although your guidance counselor may have your transcript, it is also important for you to know what your current academic standing is and what your future plans are. You should be able to tell your guidance counselor your grades in all of the classes you are enrolled in (as well as what classes you plan to take your senior year). Of course, if you need help, your guidance counselor can give you advice on how to work with your teachers to make sure you get the best grades possible.
3. Have a preliminary resume ready.
Unfortunately, your guidance counselor cannot be expected to remember every activity you’re involved in (both on and off campus). Help your counselor out by coming equipped with a resume, or what I call a “Brag Sheet,” ready to share. Your brag sheet should include not only your campus activities, but what you’ve done off campus and during the summer. If you need help with the nitty-gritty of your resume, ApplyWise.com can assist you in formatting the perfect resume.
4. Get your parents’/guardians’ opinions.
It is important that you know how involved your parents will be in your college search process. Some are involved—others aren’t. Letting your guidance counselor know your parents’ feelings toward your college search process will help your counselor manage their expectations and keep them appropriately involved.
5. Do not bring a list of colleges! Instead, focus on traits you’d like in your future college.
You should go into your 20-minute meeting with an open mind. Although you might be interested in a few colleges, there may be other colleges you’ve not yet heard of that your guidance counselor believes are great academic, social and financial fits for you. In your first meeting, share a list of the personal qualities you’re looking for in your future college. Share your answers to the following questions and your guidance counselor will help you come up with a balanced list of colleges to meet your needs:
- How far do you want to be from home?
- Do you want to live on campus? Would you like most of your classmates to be on campus during weekends?
- Do you prefer small seminars to large lectures?
- What kind of classmates would you like to have in college?
- Do envision your dream college as single-sex college? Public or private? With a religious affiliation?
- Do you want a school with flexible curriculum or structured?
Remember, finding the right college takes TIME. Your guidance counselor is there to help, but with their fairly limited resources (like their own free-time), it’s important to not only use your meeting wisely, but also to show that you are serious by putting in the hard work to make the process a rewarding learning experience. Not only will you make a great impression, you’ll ensure that your college search process starts off on the right foot.
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Article by Katherine L. Cohen, PhD, Founder and CEO of IvyWise, LLC and ApplyWise.com