Why School Counselors Matter

Counselors are often responsible for hundreds if not thousands of students within a high school and, as a result, interact very little with each individual student. By default, this leads students to detached mentor relationships, little guidance, and less time to be informed of opportunities. The lack of outreach to students has less to do with the quality of work counselors do and more to do with the ratio of students counselors must account for and the constant flow of new students into schools. The following are some ways students can help their counselors, to ultimately, help themselves in such an important time.

Counselors Can Be A Support System

Counselors are specifically prepared to give students moral support and guide them through an important time in their lives, where they must prepare to transition from high school to college.

It’s crucial for students learning to navigate high school and preparing a successful college application to approach their counselors with any of the questions that are bound to arise. It is extremely important that students begin this process as early as possible in their high school career. Counselors are some of the most important support systems that high schools provide their students. They help orient students to receive the help they need or have their questions answered.

Counselors create scholarship bulletins, organize college fairs, hold financial aid workshops, and many other activities to inform large amounts of students in an effective way. It’s important to know how and when your school counselor distributes information to the student body. Whether by email or paper handouts, make sure to check all information provided by school counselors to stay updated on deadlines or meetings that can help to stay on track.

It is recommended to develop a supportive relationship with your counselor involving frequent interactions and many questions. Students can arrange meetings with their counselors to ask questions or create a plan for their high school education. Together, they can decide what classes to take, how to complete high school graduation requirements, what tutoring services to attend, what schools and scholarships to apply for, or how to best be productive over the summer. During these interactions, a student can even learn about opportunities that counselors might not have time to advertise to all their students.

Counselors Write Recommendation Letters

Most college applications will require that a student’s school counselor write a letter of recommendation on behalf of that student. As stated before, most counselors are responsible for writing hundreds of these letters every year. Due to how little one-on-one interaction there is between counselors and students, these letters can potentially be generic and not add as much to a student’s application if there have been few interactions.

However, students can avoid this happening to them by going out of their way to interact with their counselor and developing a supportive relationship. This allows that counselor to speak highly of an individual student using specific examples that will make a student’s college application stand out. This also shows that the student had the courage and intiative to reach out for help, is well known by school personnel, and cares about their future.

Being a memorable student for a counselor does not necessarily mean impressing them. A student can become memorable by speaking often with their counselors and asking questions that show an interest in planning for the future. Counselors will advocate for the students that made lasting impressions and possibly have the opportunity to nominate these students for awards.

Help Counselors By Preparing A Résumé

A great way to ease the process of college and scholarship applications is to prepare a résumé and send it your school counselor as early into senior year of high school as possible. Make sure to notify school counselors of any personal responsibilities such as a job or caring for family members that affect college applications. These are important for a school counselor to note in a recommendation letter as they will provide a better context for what a student spent their time doing and had to overcome in order to still complete their school responsibilities.

Counselors can also use this to write a more detailed recommendation letter which will make the applicant stand out. By having the résumé early on, counselors will have all the information necessary to write a recommendation letter early.

As a courtesy to school counselors, students should notify their counselors at least two weeks in advance of any college or scholarship applications where a counselor needs to fill a form, evaluation, or recommendation letter. It is recommended to periodically check the status of recommendation letters through application portals and remind counselors to submit if a deadline is approaching.

Celebrate Counselors

It’s important to remember that counselors are not only there to support their students in the roughest moments of high school, but they are also there to celebrate with their students when they achieve. Take the time to inform school counselors of your achievements because they deserve to feel fulfilled, as professionals, through the achievement of their students.

Part of building a rapport with a school counselor means reciprocating the kindness they show students and showing genuine curiosity regarding their well-being.

It’s important to not feel guilty or ashamed for taking a counselor’s time because they are specifically there for their students. Think of this as practice for interacting with personnel in college. In college, it’s important to take initiative in arranging meetings that are necessary for student success and becoming accustomed to attending office hours which are specifically designated for students to take up a professor’s time. These are all ways to build important relationships with professors for research, letters of recommendation, and general guidance.

Other Ways To Find A College Counselor

School Bell Blog acknowledges that not all students have accessibility to counselors, have counselors with specialized knowledge on college applications, or simply do not feel comfortable approaching school counselors for support.

The following is a list of college preparation programs that can provide alternative counseling services as a part of supporting high school students in their college application process.

Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America

Nyah Project

Questbridge College Prep Scholars

Posse Foundation

Upward Bound

*There are several Upward Bound programs across the nation. It is advised to search for the Upward Bound program location closest to you.

USC Bovard Scholars

Hamilton Scholars

We wish you Good Luck!

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*The School Bell Blog is not associated with any of the programs mentioned. This blog serves as a resource of information that may or may not apply to the readers and it is up to each individual reader to verify the information on their own. For verification on what opportunities are available to you and for formal help, please see your school counselors. The School Bell Blog encourages everyone to do their own research before taking the information stated here as fact. Thank you.

Please email me with any questions or requests for posts: schoolbellblog@gmail.com

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