Planning for College Your High School Path

Going to College? What to Ask your High School Guidance Counselor

college-basics-planning-college

Your high school guidance counselor is a very valuable resource. They are your first step to getting into college. The guidance office is the clearinghouse for information you need to take the right path to prepare yourself for college admission.

The guidance counselor has information on both colleges and careers, and it is in her office where you begin the hard work of applying to colleges–from selecting the colleges you apply to to preparing your high school transcript and resume. It is in your high school guidance office that you can learn about college admission testing, financial aid, and how to schedule college visits and interviews.

Your relationship with your guidance counselor should be a four-year one. Getting to know your counselor as a freshman will allow you to develop a good understanding of each other. If this is not possible, each year it is important to meet your guidance counselor at the beginning of the year, get to know him, and schedule regular visits.

We have put together some areas for you to make sure you discuss with your guidance counselor so your meetings are more effective and that you get the information you should have as you plan for your college future.

Learn About Your High School Standing

Ask questions like:

  • How do our school’s test scores compare with other high schools?
  • What are our Honor Society’s requirements?
  • Where do graduates from our high school go to college and what are their success rates?
  • What are the required courses for our college preparatory students?
  • What AP courses are offered here?

Get the Right kinds of Information:

Ask:

  • What after-school sessions are there about college planning?
  • Do we have tutoring for ACTs and SATs?
  • Where are the free testing booklets and practice tests?
  • What college representatives are scheduled to come here?
  • Is there a college fair in the area?
  • Are there any financial aid workshops for my parent(s) and me?
  • Where are the financial aid (FAFSA) application forms?

Make Sure You and the Guidance Office are Tracking Your Progress

Ask:

  • Can we review my transcript to make sure I have the courses I need?
  • Do you keep me informed of my class standing and when it changes?
  • Do you have a schedule of course work planned for the next year(s)?
  • How will you get to know me?
  • Can you steer me to teachers I should get recommendations from?
  • Do you have suggestions for activities I should be involved in?

Know How your Counselor will Help you with College Admission

Ask:

  • Will you help me develop and narrow down a college list?
  • Can you inform me of college requirements for schools I apply to?
  • Will you put me in touch with graduates from our school who are in the colleges I am applying to?
  • Do you help me set up college admission testing dates and in a way I can retake tests if I have to?
  • Will you write a recommendation for me as part of my college application?
  • Can you give me advice for follow ups to places where I may get waited listed?

Your guidance counselor can be the key to your getting into the college best suited for you. However, you still have to make sure you guide your guidance counselor into doing their best work for you. You and your guidance counselor should always work hand-in-hand from day one of your high school freshman year.