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How to Meet with Your High School Counselor 

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This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Does your high school have a college/career counselor? You may not be utilizing their services and resources enough.

Below you’ll find information about how best to be prepared to meet with your college/career counselor so that they can help you achieve your goals. They were really helpful when I was going through the college application process.

What is a high school/college and/or career counselor (a.k.a. advisor)? 

According to Zip Recruiter, a college/career counselor’s job is to assist students with planning for their future after graduation. In this career, counselors or advisors help students determine their career goals and then advise both students and parents, occasionally in collaboration with faculty, on how to achieve those goals. 

Some roles and responsibilities of a high school college/career counselor can be focused on academics, career opportunities, personal/social guidance, and success tools. 

What you need to know about them

The first thing may be obvious, but they are human and connections are a two way street. If your counselor or advisor is not reaching out to you, I would advise to reach out to them.

How would they know what you needed or that you needed help unless you told them? Furthermore, they may have anywhere from 50-500 students at once to help. Be patient, but also be on top of your deadlines and time manage efficiently.

This brings me to my next point. It is important to know where their office is, what their hours are, how to contact them, and what opportunities they could provide.

For example, if a certain number of students were interested, your advisor could reach out for a college admissions advisor to come out and speak to you about the school. They may offer ACT or SAT workshops. Potentially, they may even have a list of local scholarships

Important Questions to Ask Your Counselor

Academic counseling

Did you know college and/or career counselors can help you plan your course schedule? Depending on your school, this may be a job done by two separate people but sometimes is combined. Even if not, at least reaching out for help can get you pointed to the right person.

Specifically for students who are just starting their high school journey, this could be extremely helpful. They can also help monitor and provide guidance on academic performance. Furthermore, they could recommend various academic support services, such as tutoring, writing help, study groups, library resources, or mentors.  

Career/college counseling

There are many ways your counselor or advisor can help you when it comes to choosing a college major or career. They assist students in exploring their interests and skills through various ways such as quizzes, bringing people in to talk about their careers, or looking over your past experiences and passions.

This leads to providing guidance on career options, including not only college but trades as well. When it comes to the college admission process, they may be the initial or primary point of contact for your school and the college.

They may help with sending a letter of recommendation or transcript. They can also help look over college admissions and financial and/or federal aid packages.

I suggest bringing your list of colleges and narrowing it down with them. After deciding on a career or major you are interested in, counselors can offer resources for job shadowing, internships, and volunteer opportunities.

Personal and social counseling

This brings me to the other value counselors or advisors can provide. They can give you support if you are struggling with emotional or behavioral obstacles. This can look like offering guidance on stress management, organization, time management, and coping strategies.

Additionally, if they end up writing you a letter of recommendation, this aspect can be important when looking at grades. They can provide context if something happened for your grades to dip, such as family or health issues.

If you are at a crossroads, they can help advise you on the best next move. Sometimes, they even can facilitate support groups for students dealing with common challenges such as paying for college or transitioning after graduation. 

What to have prepared

Of course, this greatly depends on what services you need from them. As mentioned above, they can help you in many ways, so to ensure you are prepared for your meeting, I would:

  1. Make sure you have “in writing” or on their calendar when and where you are meeting. Having the “subject” or purpose for the meeting could also be helpful. If you have to cancel for any reason, try to give them as much notice as possible and potential times to reschedule. 
  2. Bring in your college application materials, assignments, personality/career quiz, or any other resources you may have questions about or want them to look over. 
  3. Be sure that anything discussed in the meeting is also sent in an email afterwards, such as deadlines for a letter of recommendation or any resources that they mentioned you want more information on. It’s also okay to politely follow up if you haven’t heard back from them in a while. 

How high school counselors help students succeed

By going to your counselor, they can help you reduce stress and anxiety. This can be around anything such as tests, decision making, or perfectionism. This helps you improve your academic performance, thus preparing you for college or your career while enhancing your personal and social development. 

I encourage you to seek out and utilize the services of your high school college/career counselor. They are a wonderful resource and could provide opportunities you may have never thought of. 

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Author: Rosalie Anthony

Rosalie is currently attending Point Park University earning her Dance- B.F.A degree with a minor in French. Previously, she attended and graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in dance. She is passionate about learning, teaching and mentoring. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, chatting with friends, and discovering new places to go in Pittsburgh.