Admissions

My Guidance Counselor Doesn't Even Know My Name!

Question: I am a senior at a big public high school and just met with my guidance counselor. He kept calling me “Dan" even though my name is “Ben." (I corrected him twice and then gave up.) He was new last year and obviously doesn't know me at all. But he will be writing my college recommendation. So am I screwed?

In a perfect world, every guidance counselor would be able to compose glowing, anecdotal recommendations that highlight each student's strengths. But, in the real world, this is rarely true. It's more common for students to have guidance counselors who don't know them well than it is to have those who do ... and some seniors have no counselor at all! When I worked at Smith College, it wasn't unusual to see counselor recommendations that said little more than, “Caitlin is a responsible, capable young woman who has pursued a rigorous curriculum, taken part in our volleyball and debate teams, and will succeed at the college of her choice."

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