Jan 6, 2010

Resolve To Make Your Guidance Counselor Your Best Friend In 2010

The odds may be stacked against you. Counselor caseloads are off the charts, and the “other duties as assigned” clause in counselor contracts has never been more abused by school administrators. But you need to give it a try. Because counselors play such a huge role in the college admissions process, you should have more than a just a nodding acquaintance—how about best friends?

Long before senior year, your guidance counselor has significant say in scheduling, placement, and course selection. Counselors can also be key players in providing information on careers, college majors, test preparation, summer programming, scholarships and much more. They can advise and write recommendations for jobs, mentorships, or other enrichment activities in which you plan to enroll.

And colleges expect your counselor to know you. On the Secondary School Report (SSR), the Common Application asks counselors to rate students in academic achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, as well as personal qualities and character. Counselors are also asked to provide the “first words that come to mind” when describing you. Stop to think for a moment. What would those words be based on the current state of your relationship with your guidance counselor?

When all is said and done, counselors can be invaluable to high school success. But it’s up to you to take the initiative to build a strong working relationship that will facilitate access to the kinds of support and information you need before starting the college application process.

So how is this done? Begin making friends with your guidance counselor by asking for an appointment. Don’t waste anyone’s time and don’t reserve your appointment opportunities for gripe sessions. If you’re a freshman or a sophomore, ask for help evaluating summer options or planning a sequence of classes supporting an area of interest. If you’re a junior, come prepared with questions about specific colleges, scholarship opportunities, or plans you may be developing for spring tours. Get right to the point, be polite, take note of the advice offered, and follow-up with a brief email thanking your counselor for helping out.

And seniors, don’t forget about your best friend. Now that the college application process is beginning to wind down, take a moment to say thank you for the time and effort that went into advising you and/or writing your recommendations. A handwritten note, personally delivered with sincere thanks is best. At a minimum, send a friendly email keeping your counselor informed on where you are in the process. Let him or her know of any decisions you are making along the way.

Throughout your high school career, it’s important that your counselor knows about your plans, accomplishments, and involvement. Don’t be diverted by automated counseling systems. Naviance or Family Connection won’t be writing your college recommendations—your guidance counselor is solely in charge of that responsibility. And you definitely want a friend who knows you and who can say nice things about you writing those words.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.