You might think your high school guidance counselor is useless. Many students only see their counselors when they’re obligated, but don’t let other students' misconceptions influence you, pre-collegiette. Your guidance counselor can be a huge help to you in high school, for everything from getting your senior year schedule college-ready to whether or not you should apply early decision. Read on and find out five ways your counselor can help you!
When you’re creating your class schedule
“My counselor has been a great help with planning my senior year class schedule. We have already discussed whether or not I should attend the local community college to obtain a few college credits before heading straight into a university and we have also talked about AP classes and other rigorous honors courses,” says Tierra C. Watkins, a junior at Wadley High School.
When you begin to schedule classes for senior year, go to your counselor to discuss which would be best for you and your college search. You know that the classes you take senior year are important, but sometimes it can be hard to decipher which ones will benefit you the most. Your guidance counselor will have a better sense of how different classes will look on your college apps.
Before you need a letter of recommendation
“[My guidance counselor] has supported me as both a student and a person for the past year, and I couldn't think of anyone better to write my recommendation letters!” says Haley Royar Loflin, a senior at Norfolk Academy.
The better a teacher, guidance counselor, coach or boss knows you, the greater your recommendation letter can be! Get started early by talking to your guidance counselor your sophomore or junior year about your interests and extracurricular activities so you can begin to build a relationship. Then go back and talk to your counselor a few months or weeks before you need a letter of recommendation to go over what she’s going to write.
When you’re building and narrowing down your list of colleges
“[My guidance counselors] have helped me find schools that offer my specific program, and have provided me with some contacts and resources to help me get into my dream school!,” says Hannah, a senior at Lakeshore Catholic High School.
Although you’ve done plenty of research and talked to your parents and teachers about which schools to attend, it’s still super important to get your counselor’s opinion too. Not only are they more informed, but also your counselor knows the record of past students from your high school getting into various colleges, and what their GPAs and extracurriculars were. Your counselor will be able to suggest schools you hadn't considered before and offer opinions on which ones are reach, target, and safety schools for you.
When you have a big concern
“The biggest thing my high school guidance counselor did for me was care. I always knew I could go to her with a school-related problem and that she'd take care of me. It was amazing having such a great ally in my corner,” says Darci Miller, a senior at University of Miami.
Fail a big test? Hate every college you saw? Realize you want to take a year off? Your guidance counselor's job is to listen to your problems and help you fix them. Try to keep her in the know; she’ll be able to help you more readily if she sees you more than once a year. After your first initial meeting with your guidance counselor, ask what would be the best way to contact her with concerns in the future. Some counselors might have a “stop by anytime” policy, but others may prefer for you to schedule a meeting.
When you’re looking for more information about paying for college
“She was there to guide me towards scholarships which was so, so, so helpful, I ended up getting three! I honestly couldn't have done it without her,” says Ceida Elizarraraz, a sophomore at University of Illinois-Chicago.
While you’ve conquered how best to write your college apps, you are also looking into financial aid and scholarships. Your guidance counselor can help run through the process with you and your parents and explain which financial aid package would be best for you. Your counselor will also be able to locate great scholarship opportunities more specifically tailored to you, as opposed to more generic ones. And be sure to ask any questions you have about filling out the FAFSA, scholarship deadlines, and student loans!