A high school guidance counselor offers students help with standardized testing, finding the right college, discovering scholarships, and more. Guidance counselors are invaluable resources; they have extensive knowledge about the college application process and have helped hundreds of kids apply to college every year. No matter the information you seek, be it the next deadline for signing up for the SAT or when to start filling out the FAFSA®, your guidance counselor can help.
Advising You Academically
See your guidance counselor early in your high school career for help choosing which classes to take. As your junior and senior years approach, she can advise you on which courses to take to make you attractive to the colleges you’d like to apply for. The guidance counselor is also there to ensure you’re meeting all class requirements to graduate on time and that you’re succeeding academically.
If you’re having trouble in school, the guidance counselor can recommend tutoring opportunities so you can get back on track. Similarly, if you’re excelling at a certain subject, ask her about signing up for the AP or IB class next year, so you can take the AP or IB test and earn college credit.
Assisting You With Standardized Testing
The guidance counselor will let you know when the SAT and ACT test dates are. You can get help signing up for these tests, and advice on which study guides work best. Depending on if you’re a junior or a senior, the guidance counselor will tell you when the best time to take the test is. If you’re taking it again in hopes of raising your scores, she can help you create a study strategy for tackling the section that gave you the most trouble.
Cluing You into Great Schools
Guidance counselors have been at this for years, and they know about a lot of cool colleges that you may not have heard of. Chat with her about what you’re looking for in a college, and bring your list of possibilities to the meeting. Chances are, she will have information on a lot of great schools you otherwise wouldn’t have heard of or looked into. Whether these are small liberal arts colleges that often get overshadowed by the Ivy Leagues or schools on the opposite coast where you’ve always wanted to live, she’ll give you great recommendations.
Your counselor will also look at your academic record and let you know how well you match up with the school’s requirements. Schools often report average GPA, SAT, and ACT scores of admitted freshmen, and your counselor will let you know if you fit well within these averages. If every school you want to apply to is a reach school, she can help you find some safety schools that have the elements you’re looking for in a university.
Recommending Scholarship Opportunities
Like with colleges, guidance counselors know a lot about the local, state, and national scholarships available. Talk to your counselor early in your senior year to find out what scholarships you should apply for, how you apply, and when the due dates are. Paying for college is difficult for many families, and you may not receive the aid your FAFSA® application and SAR say you’re eligible for.
Because so many scholarships are available, and because there are more than a few scams floating around, talk to your counselor about the scholarships you’ve discovered online. She’ll help you spot any scams and give you information on scholarships you haven’t considered or heard of.
If one of your reach schools is a top school, your guidance counselor might know someone who’s applied before. An introduction to someone who successfully got into that school (whether or not they attended) could help you with your application. That person can tell you what they did during their application, and you can glean some ideas for making your own application stand out. If they attended, they can also tell you what it’s like to go to that school.
The guidance counselor may also know someone from admissions or financial aid that you can talk to. These connections can be helpful for increasing your chances at a top school because those people can give you pointers on how to make your application the best it can be. You also get to learn more about the school from someone who works there, giving you invaluable information that’ll help you ultimately decide where you want to attend.
Helping With Career Planning
Many high school students have an idea what they’d like to do as a career, and attending the right college is an important part of that journey. Express your career ideas and aspirations to your counselor. She has information about careers, including tests you can take, to see if what you’re dreaming of will be a good fit for you. For students already set in their ideas about careers, the guidance counselor will help you find schools with strong reputations in those academic areas.
Similarly, if you have no idea what you want to do with your life, the guidance counselor can help. Whether that means giving you a test to see what careers you have an aptitude for or helping you find colleges where you’ll be able to explore interesting classes and majors, get your guidance counselor’s assistance. Finding the right college where you can delve into your interests and discover new ones will help you on your path to a career.
High school guidance counselors are also there to help you with emotional problems. They can offer you an ear when the pressure of applying to school causes anxiety and are there to help you through other problems, too. Guidance counselors are also good for recommending additional help, like therapy, for problems they are not equipped to handle.
One of your best resources during the college admission process is in your high school, so make sure to use her. Guidance counselors are accustomed to helping students with college, and yours will be glad to give you information and assist you.