Preparing for College

What should my college counselor be doing?

Question: What kinds of things should my college counselor be doing for me?

High-school college counselors are responsible to see that you satisfy all of your school's graduation requirements and that you get the support needed to make an informed and intelligent decision about higher education. In some cases, the counselor's job is, indeed, challenging.

One of the challenges facing college counselors is the sheer number of counselees they have. It isn't at all unusual for counselors in larger high schools to each have hundreds of students under their care. The result can be very frustrating for counselors who are dedicated to providing timely advice and direction. The lesson for you here is don't wait for things to happen; make them happen. You have to be proactive.

There is a relatively orderly procession of events in the college preparation process. I won't review them all here, but be aware that certain actions need to be taken at specific times during your passage through high school as you prepare for college admission.

You must be aware of the standardized tests, the SATI and SAT II, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and requirements, the best colleges that fit your and your family's needs, among other issues. Your counselor should be there during each phase of your progress from ninth grade through college applications in your senior year to help you answer questions and make decisions.

If you get a new counselor from year to year, you need to be especially proactive. First thing each year, visit with your new counselor. Introduce yourself so that he or she will remember who you are. Express the fact that you want to get the most out the counseling program's resources. Ask to get a quick tour of the facilities. Are there computer programs to help with college selection? Are there any SAT coaching materials or courses available? When will you be scheduled for a formal counseling meeting? Will your parents be involved? These are the types of questions you need ask.

These are some of the issues your counselor should be helping you to resolve.