School Counselors Help Ease the Process

Hopefully, there will be several sources for support as you prepare for and make your way through high school: family, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and friends, but one you may not have considered is your school counselor. School counselors are one of the best ongoing sources of information and support for students who plan to go to college. If you are lucky enough to have a counselor in your school, it is a good idea to visit that person on a regular basis. Most school counselors have many, many students they want to help. To make sure your counselor knows you are planning for college, a good way to start is with a visit to introduce yourself and explain that college is your goal. 

While in 9th grade, your counselor can help you make sure that you are taking all of the classes necessary, including college-preparatory classes. When it comes to picking your courses, you will want to meet with a counselor to plan a strong high school program that will open doors to any college you wish to attend.

Your counselor can help you:
  • Plan classes that will prepare you well for college admission and success. Your counselor will know which high school classes are required for college admission.
  • Review how you are doing in your classes and suggest areas that need improvement. If you need to do some catching up, your counselor can suggest ways to do that.
  • Find special programs that may help you prepare for college, beyond your school’s walls. These might include weekend or summer programs on college campuses (often free to students whose parents didn’t go to college), internships, or community college classes open to high school students. Your counselor will know about local college fairs, opportunities to visit college campuses, and even overnight visits to colleges that may be offered. 
  • Familiarize yourself with everything you need to know about taking recommended and/or required college admission tests. Counselors know how and when to register for tests. They can even help with fee waivers if your family can’t afford to pay for tests.
  • Figure out how to pay for college by applying for financial aid from colleges and scholarship agencies.
Meet with your family to help them understand how the college admission and financial aid process works!

Although most of the work you will do with your high school counselor about college planning will take place during your junior and senior years, it is never too early to visit with your counselor.  This is the time to start helping your counselor get to know you and your college dreams.

Don’t have a counselor?
If your school does not have a counselor available to help you with the college search process, then go to a teacher you like and ask her/him about the process. All of your teachers have a college degree, so they all at least know the process from a personal point of view. If the first teacher you go to isn't able to take the time to help you, go to another teacher or go speak to an administrator at school. If you have any family members who have been to college, go to them and ask them for help. If there is a college or university close by, contact the admission office and ask if they have any programs that help students understand the college admission process, or go in and speak to an admission counselor in person. Others to speak to would be members of your community/neighborhood/religious group who have attended college. Find an ally that can support you in your quest to attend college.

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