One of the most valuable college prep resources available to you may be walking the same hallways as you every day — your school counselor.
Your school counselor can help you with almost everything related to attending college, from financing your education to finding a school that is right for you. But they can only help you if you’re prepared to make the most out of your time together.
Here are seven ways to have a productive meeting with your guidance counselor:
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself
Be open and honest with your guidance counselor about your current interests and goals for college and beyond. What classes are you enjoying? What types of extracurricular activities are you involved in? The better your counselor gets to know you, the sooner they can start recommending the best school environment for you.
Bring a list of schools you’re interested in
While they’ll likely be able to point you toward schools that may be a good fit based on your grades and interests, your guidance counselor will appreciate some legwork on your end. Plus, once they realize which schools interest you, they may be able to suggest similar schools that haven’t made your list — yet.
Actively listen to their advice, and take notes
You’ll go over a lot of information with your guidance counselor during each meeting. Actively listen to what they are saying, and ask questions if they touch on a topic that you don’t understand (say, the difference between weighted and non-weighted GPA). Be sure to also bring a notepad to take notes and write down any to-dos your counselor suggests.
Talk to them about financing
Your guidance counselor can help point you toward schools that will work within your budget, and they can likely provide budget plans for your years as a college student. Remember that your counselor has connections with colleges, both professionally and through students they’ve worked with in the past, and they may be able to use these connections to get answers to more in-depth financial questions. Another tip: Don’t be afraid to ask if they have any recommendations for on-campus jobs while you’re at school.
Make a plan
During junior year, work with your guidance counselor to set deadlines for your essays, applications, and scholarships. Ask them if you should consider early action, and make sure you have a list of college preparation tips before you head home for the summer.
Use them as editors
Guidance counselors can provide free, expert eyes on your résumé and college essay. Take your guidance counselor’s advice on your résumé, and ask specific questions about adding or deleting content. Ask them for help when planning and developing your college essays, too — from the outline to the finished product.
Prepare a list of questions
Most importantly, prepare a list of questions to go over with your guidance counselor. The questions will vary depending on what part of the process you’re in, but some examples of good questions are:
- What type of classes should I be taking this year, and what level (AP, honors, etc.) would you recommend?
- What kind of summer job and extracurricular experience would help me get into my desired school?
- Are there any scholarships you know about, and do you see me as a strong applicant?
- I love (insert your favorite class). What types of majors use similar skills, and what are some related after school job options?
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