5 Ways Your College Counselor Can Get You Into College
The Process Of Applying For College Can Leave Students Feeling Frustrated, Confused, And Overwhelmed...
Fortunately, a college counselor can help you through all the confusing twists and turns involved in turning your college application into an acceptance letter.
Knowing that you’ve got help just an email away can help ease the stress and anxiety faced by many students during this lengthy process. Going through the college application process without a roadmap or any form of guidance can cause students a major headache. A college counselor serves as a guide to the confusing, unknown, and obscure parts of getting into college.
Their guidance can help students achieve more than they ever believed was possible.
Of course, school counselors often can’t provide enough help for students looking at more competitive schools. In those instances, students looking for extra guidance outside of their school counselor can employ the services of a professional college counselor. These counselors offer more one-on-one advising and often have a better insight into the bigger picture of the college admissions process than high school counselors.
While not every student needs a professional counselor, many can benefit from the experience and expertise they bring to the table.
What You’ll Find In This Article
- What Do College Guidance Counselors Do for Students?
- School Guidance Counselors VS. Professional College Counselors
- 5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Your College Counselor
- Some Final Tips on Working With College Counselors
- College Counselors Can Make the Difference
What Do College Guidance Counselors Do For Students?
A college guidance counselor’s main goal is to help guide students through the difficult tasks related to the college admissions process.
One of the most difficult challenges students often face is thinking about their college selection as it relates to their future career, and college counselors are well equipped to handle that question. College counselors can also help students tackle the more technical aspects of applying to college such as applications, letters of recommendation, and essays.
A meaningful student-counselor relationship can ease college related anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty.
Keep in mind that depending on the size of your high school and your counselor’s schedule, your high school counselor may not have the time to provide you with all of the following help one-on-one. This is where hiring a professional high school counselor can provide the extra guidance a student needs in order to achieve their full potential, but we’ll get more into the differences between school counselors and professional counselors later in the article.
NARROW THE COLLEGE SEARCH
One of the most important roles of a college guidance counselor is to help you select the right school for you. College counselors work to match students to the right school for their needs by looking at the bigger picture. When helping students narrow down their list of colleges to apply to, counselors will take factors such as degree availability, financial concerns, and school prestige into considerations, to help you see the bigger picture.
Many students find the process of choosing colleges daunting. How ambitious should a student be? Is applying to Harvard realistic for you? Should your ‘Reach’ schools really be your target schools?
College counselors are experts at helping you evaluate your school list in an objective manner.
Ultimately, narrowing down your list of colleges to apply to helps keep you from becoming overwhelmed with too many options. A college counselor will work closely with you to help you identify what matters most to you in a school and help you weed out the schools that aren’t a good fit for you. While nobody can tell you where to go to college, a counselor can help you make that decision for yourself by arming you with tools and resources you need to make an informed choice.
PREPARING FOR THE ACT AND SAT
Students facing major test anxiety will want to find a supportive college counselor to help them weather the storm of preparing for the ACT or SAT.
Both high school guidance counselors and professional counselors will be able to prepare you by working with you to create a study schedule, offering test taking strategies, and pointing you toward resources that break down what’s covered on each test.
While many schools accept scores from either test, your college counselor will also be able to help you determine which tests to take, or if you would benefit more from taking both the ACT and the SAT.
Your high school guidance counselor will generally have a wealth of information pertaining to the tests most commonly requested by colleges in your area, as well as information regarding testing dates and locations.
REFINE COLLEGE APPLICATIONS AND ESSAYS
The paperwork involved with applying for college can be a real source of stress for many students. Fortunately, both professional college guidance counselors and your school counselor can help you through the college application process. This includes helping you review essays, fill out the Common Application, and gathering the necessary transcripts and test scores needed to apply to college.
Revising and working through hiccups in your college application essays is where the expertise of private college counselors truly shines. Unlike high school guidance counselors, who often have many more students to deal with, private counselors can dedicate the time necessary to help you polish your essays to perfection. This way you can feel confident that an experienced eye has looked over your essay thoroughly before you turn it in.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Any qualified counselor believes that college is merely the first step in a long journey. The role of a good college guidance counselor is to help you make the right college decision so your future dreams can become a reality.
It’s no wonder then that many college counselors start working with students by hammering out their future plans. Trying to find a concrete answer to “what do I want to be when I grow up, and how do I do it” can frustrate even the most well prepared students. College counselors can take the end goal you see in your mind and the career you know you want, and show you which colleges and academic programs are best suited to getting you there..
OFFER FINANCIAL AID GUIDANCE
While many high school counselors may not have time to guide you through the financial aid process, professional college counselors almost always will, because they know that financial worry and strain during college can jeopardize even the most well made plans.
Fortunately, many school counselors can provide you with packets of general information about financial aid and some may have additional lists of local aid options. It may be worth checking with them first even if you plan to work with a professional counselor, especially if you plan on attending a local school.
Of course, professional counselors often come with their own cost to be considered. If finances are a big concern for you and your family, consider learning more about WeAdmit’s deferred success fee program. Through this program, you’re charged only a low fee for our counseling services until you get into the colleges you’re aiming for.
GIVE ACTIONABLE AND REALISTIC ADVICE
The role of a college counselor isn’t to do everything for you; instead, their job is to offer you actionable advice and help walk you through the steps it takes to apply for college. This can cover everything from offering worksheets to help promote self-discovery to teaching you how to revise a college application essay.
While it’s true that a college counselor should provide a framework to get students through the application process, this framework does nothing if a student chooses not to follow through. This is why it’s crucial that you act on the advice given to you by your college counselor.
It’s not enough to simply work on worksheets during meetings and believe that will be enough to get you into college.
Sometimes, college counselors must also be the bearer of bad news or harsh realities. There’s nothing personal involved when your counselor informs you that Stanford has a 4.8% acceptance rate; just because they mention it, doesn’t mean you should be deterred from applying, either. It’s the counselor’s job to ensure that you’re aware of all the realities when applying for college.
CHALLENGE YOU TO PUSH YOURSELF
A college counselor will challenge students to push themselves to be their best and showcase their talents. This encouragement can be priceless during the hectic college application process. Sometimes, all a student needs to hear is “you should go for this” from someone who knows what they’re doing.
Because experienced college counselors often work with students through a series of pre-planned steps, they can encourage students to follow their aspirations without losing sight of the bigger picture. For students who are unsure of their own abilities or if they can meet the challenge of getting accepted into their dream school, counselors can provide assurance that a student is staying on track.
While many students can benefit from school guidance counselors as well as professional college counselors, there are clear differences between the two. Students looking to make the most out of their relationship with a counselor should familiarize themselves with the differences and choose their counselor according to their needs.
School Guidance Counselors VS. Professional College Counselors
While both school guidance counselors and professional college counselors can offer you the help you need to succeed, each type of counselor has their strengths and weaknesses. Students should carefully consider the type of help that they’re looking for when choosing between a school counselor and a professional counselor.
The differences between school counselors and professional counselors does not mean that one is better than the other. Students should take advantage of all the resources available to them while they apply for college. There will be areas where a school guidance counselor is the best person to talk to; for other areas, the expertise of a professional college counselor may be required.
SCHOOL GUIDANCE COUNSELORS
- Have familiarity with local colleges
- Have direct access to your teachers
- Have the ability to get you any help you need for your classes
- Often work tight schedules with dozens of students
- May not have knowledge of all colleges you want to apply to
- May not have access to specific resources you need
Though school guidance counselors may not have the time to have frequent one-on-one conversations with a student, they can provide support during critical steps in the application process like seeking letters of recommendation.
High school guidance counselors can also help students make sure they’re attending all the classes they need to graduate, help them discover their academic strengths and weaknesses, and push students to take classes that challenge them.
This type of support can help students stay focused and on track during their junior and senior years of high school, and sometimes even earlier.
Students looking to attend local colleges or colleges with higher acceptance rates can rely on their school guidance counselor for many of their needs. However, students needing extra support or aiming to apply to more prestigious institutions should consider going beyond their school counselor by seeking the help of a professional college counselor.
PROFESSIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS
- Have the ability to offer each student one-on-one attention
- Have access to a wide variety of specialized resources
- Have a clear view of the full college application process
- Require that students pay a fee (though some offer deferred success payment programs)
- Require hard work on the student’s part in order to get the most out of the service
- Require the student to gather information such as transcripts and test scores
Students who work with professional college counselors have the benefit of getting extended personal time with a college entrance expert. Unlike school counselors who may handle a variety of tasks for hundreds of students each year, college admissions and decision making is all that professional college counselors have to focus on. This focus allows the counselor to identify obstacles a student may face when applying for college and create solutions.
Ultimately, professional college counselors have the time, resources, and knowledge that a student looking to apply to a wide variety of competitive schools needs.
Any type of student can benefit from a professional college counselor, but it’s important to understand that they can’t turn a mediocre transcript into an Ivy League acceptance letter. Students who invest in a profession counselor should be prepared to put in the hard work to achieve their goals.
A professional college counselor is there to keep you on track, offer encouragement and support, and provide you with a process to follow in order to simplify your college application experience and make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
5 Steps To Get The Most Out Of Your College Counselor
Simply showing up to your college counselor meetings and then going home won’t make the college application process any easier or less confusing. Students eager to get the most out of their time working with their college counselor should know what’s expected from them and be willing to put in the effort needed to succeed.
Just like there’s a process to apply for college, there’s a process to getting the most out of your college counselor. Keep the following ideas in mind as you work with your counselor in order to keep the process moving in the right direction.
FIND THE RIGHT TYPE OF COUNSELOR
Every student deserves the right type of counselor for their needs. A student looking to attend small state schools shouldn’t employ the services of a private college counselor who exclusively deals with getting students into law schools.
However, students needing more guidance to get into competitive schools may require the one-on-one time only available from a professional college counselor.
Students should also look for counselors that share their higher education values. Are you going to school to be a leader? Are you simply looking for a high paying career that requires a four year degree? Do you want to change the world or be one of the most efficient cogs in the machine? Identifying why you’re attending college can make finding a counselor that much easier.
Of course, you may be at a loss for where to go to find a reliable professional counselor. In that instance, we encourage you to read more about WeAdmit’s counselors. We run a team of professional counselors supported by a plethora of resources, a solid digital workflow, and a commitment to making even the most competitive colleges attainable for you.
ALWAYS COME TO MEETINGS PREPARED
The time you get to spend with your college counselor is precious and shouldn’t be wasted, especially if you’re paying for time with a professional college counselor. You should always come to your counselor meetings prepared to listen, share your concerns, and move forward with the college admissions process.
This means limiting distractions and doing your ‘homework’.
Showing up to your counselor meetings prepared goes beyond just filling out your worksheets, however. Have you done your own research into your college list? Do you have an updated calendar keeping track of all your important deadlines? Being prepared for your meetings means putting in the behind-the-scenes work that keeps you moving forward in the college application process.
BE WILLING TO WORK THROUGH YOUR PRIORITIES
Successful college counselors know that the college admissions process starts with a fair deal of soul searching. In order for students to make major life decisions, such as where they’ll go to college, they need to know what their priorities and values are. Self reflection isn’t anyone’s favorite task and it requires the student to ask themselves tough questions.
As we’ve seen time and time again with the students we counsel at WeAdmit, if you take the time to hammer out your priorities in high school, you’ll head into college feeling confident and assured of your choice. These same students will carry that confidence beyond college into the workplace, jump-starting their career ahead of everyone else.
This is why it’s so important to identify your priorities early on!
Identifying your priorities allows you to decide what you’re willing to give up when it comes time to choose a single college. Is the size of a college’s English department more important to you than where it’s located? Are you willing to attend a school with a small Greek presence if that means you get to stick closer to home?
It’s extraordinarily rare for students to find a school that offers everything they want, so students must figure out what they are (and aren’t) willing to compromise on when selecting a college.
KEEP AN OPEN LINE OF COMMUNICATION
Your college counselor is there to help you, but they aren’t mind readers or psychics. Your counselor can only help guide you through issues they’re aware about, and they can only help you avoid roadblocks if you warn them beforehand. Keep your counselor aware of your grades, test scores, and any pressing concerns that come up between meetings.
Many students worry about messaging their counselors too frequently, but this shouldn’t be the case. There’s a reason professionals like WeAdmit counselors have no limit on how often you can contact them.
Ultimately, your counselors want to be kept in the loop regarding your academic success. Good counselors also know that applying for college isn’t all sunshine and roses, and will want you to reach out when you’re struggling.
Remember that whenever you feel nervous about asking a question, your college counselor has almost certainly seen your problem before.
Everyone goes through the unnerving process of applying for college, and many college admissions counselors go into the field with the goal of making it a bit less stressful. Never be afraid to ask your counselor a question!
FOLLOW YOUR COUNSELOR’S GUIDANCE
Your counselor’s job is to help guide you through the college application process and set you up with a framework of success. The best way to get the most out of your college counselor is to focus on following their advice and guidance as best you can. Many college counselors guide students through a series of steps to build a foundation for success beyond the application process, and you don’t want to miss any important parts of the process.
Your counselor has helped countless students get into the colleges they aim for, and their experience in the fast-paced and ever-changing college admissions game is priceless. While there certainly may be instances where you should follow your gut over the advice your counselor gives you, those instances are the exception. A professional college counselor will never tell you to do something pointless or assign you busy work.
Some Final Tips On Working With College Counselors
Like many resources available to incoming college students, the benefits of using a college counselor are directly tied to how much work you put into following their guidance.
Students who take their counselor’s advice and follow through with it are the ones that succeed. Keep this in mind while you read over these tips designed to maximize the effectiveness of your time with your college counselor.
Students should start their college search early. College counselors generally work with a process that does best when a student has plenty of time to consider their options, work on their applications, and tie everything together cleanly. The college application process can take a surprising amount of time, and putting it off until the last minute can put you in a situation even the most experienced college counselor can’t help you out of.
Ideally, you should start thinking about applying for college at the beginning of your junior year.
This is the perfect time to get to know your college counselor, who will be your guide throughout the years long process of getting into college. Starting early allows your counselor to get a clearer picture of who you are as a student and what your goals are, saving you time and stress later on.
You should be open and honest with your college counselor about your academics. There’s no point in trying to hide or mask your weaknesses - the colleges you apply to will have a copy of your transcripts and test scores no matter how hard you try to bury them. Experienced college counselors know how to help you use your weaknesses to your advantage when writing essays, asking for letters of recommendations, and planning for the future.
Learning to communicate with your college counselor is also great practice for learning how to work with professors and advisers in college. Take this opportunity to practice communicating professionally, concisely, and clearly.
Ultimately, students should look to reach out before they fall behind schedule. If you have a week slammed with extracurricular activities and social obligations, it’s understandable if you won’t be able to fit revising your college application essay into your schedule. This is when you need to work with your counselor to find solutions to keep you on track; in the end, they’ll appreciate your honesty and commitment.
Your college counselor will be putting in a lot of behind-the-scenes work on your behalf, and some of that work will inevitably give them the opportunity to talk about what kind of person you are.
This is why it’s crucial to treat your college counselor like the professional they are by being respectful, polite, and kind. As we touched upon earlier, this is also good practice for how to communicate with advisers and professors.
However, being professional with your college counselor doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy and formal. Ensuring that you’re always on time and prepared for your meetings, that you respond to emails promptly, and that you meet deadlines set by your counselor are all ways you can be professional, while still being friendly.
Cultivating a positive professional relationship with your college counselor helps keep the process enjoyable and working smoothly for everyone.
Leave the distractions at home when you’re working with your counselor one-on-one. When you’re in a meeting with your counselor, it’s important to be focused on learning as much as you can and getting your questions answered.
A big part of staying focused and taking your academic future seriously is coming to meetings prepared. If you do the bare minimum when it comes to researching individual colleges and filling out worksheets designed to help you identify priorities, you’re not taking full advantage of the services your college counselor has to offer. Being focused on your future requires that you do your part to make it happen.
LEARN BY DOING
WeAdmit counselors in particular value the idea that we learn best by doing tasks for ourselves.
Students should never ask themselves for perfection the first time they complete a task, especially in the often-confusing world of higher education. Our counselors take this idea and run with it, working with students to come to the best decisions together through a series of activities, discussions, and self analysis.
College counselors love ambitious students who aren’t afraid to try something outside of their comfort zone. For example, the easiest way to learn how to write a college application essay is to write one, and students should rest easy in the knowledge that their college counselor will guide them step-by-step through the process. Ultimately, the idea of counseling is to equip you with the knowledge you need to succeed through the college application process and beyond; not simply hand success to you.
College Counselors Can Make The Difference
The guidance offered by a college counselor can be invaluable to a student who feels lost in the world of college admissions. Whether you struggle with time management, finding the resources you need to make attending college a reality, or with the emotional roller coaster that comes with applying for college, a counselor can help you make sense of it all.
By the end of the process, the time spent working with your counselor will be well worth it when you’re attending the college that’s the best fit for you.
For students looking for specialized guidance for the college application process and beyond, WeAdmit works to create a foundation for success personalized for each student. Through a series of uniqiue programs, discussions, and self reflection, students are taught how to make the best decisions for their future and build a college application that’ll reflect well on them. Our counselors are focused on setting students up for a better future through and beyond college.
Now that you’re aware of what a college counselor can do for you, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself where you could use the most guidance in getting into college. When you’re ready to take the next step toward getting into college, let us know.
We’ll Work With You To Make Your Higher Education Goals A Reality!
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