If I’ve learned anything in the past from the families I’ve worked with for college planning, it’s that high school guidance counselors are busy. REALLY busy – and it’s no wonder: according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the national ratio of students to school counselors is 470:1.
Considering they also serve as psychological counselors, administrative support, arrange for student testing, and write hundreds of recommendation letters for students per year (a requirement for admissions to many colleges), it makes sense that students really have to work hard to get actual one-on-one college counseling at many schools.
Guidance counselors can really be a valuable resource for making the right decisions about college. So, how can you be sure your teen gets the help he or she needs?
Be the squeaky wheel.
Most students don’t take the initiative to set up an appointment with their counselor. Your teen should initiate a meeting, and then a follow up meeting, and another follow up meeting, and another – they should continue to pursue the relationship throughout their high school career. So many students fall through the cracks, especially at larger public schools; don’t let that happen! Once your teen shows this initiative, the counselor will take notice and will form a solid relationship from the start.
Arrange for a college counseling meeting EARLY.
Freshman year is not too soon for your teen to set up a meeting with the counselor! Planning for the next four years and getting some perspective on which courses to take, scholarship opportunities, careers and majors to consider, etc. will help your student to get headed in the right direction from day one.
Get involved, Mom – Arrange for yearly meetings with the counselor yourself.
When the counselor knows the parent is involved, it’s serious business! This allows your teen to receive even more advice and support. Go to meetings armed with questions.
Guidance counselors are not the only resource for students, of course. Your teenager should be doing research about colleges, internships, courses, scholarships, etc. on their own as well. College life is coming soon – best to prepare and practice now for the independence that will be there later!
Has your teen met with the guidance counselor at school yet? How has the counselor helped? Leave a comment below!