Your school counselor has a big job, and part of that job is helping you (and all of your classmates) navigate the college admissions process. In that way, your school counselor is your ally.
But that is not all your school counselor does in the college admissions process.
Your school counselor can also be your best advocate through their counselor recommendation and conversations with admissions officers. Many of you do not appreciate how much influence your school counselor can have on the admissions officer’s evaluation. Admissions officers place a good deal of weight on what school counselors have to say about an applicant.
Tip #1. Do your part to make their job easy. School counselors work with LOTS of students, and the only way they can do that effectively is to use tools and systems to handle the load. You need to do your part by educating yourself about the tools and following the rules. Does your school use Naviance or some other online tool to help you with making your college list or handling your applications? Log on and explore what’s there. Are you required to turn in forms on certain days? Turn them in on time and fully completed.
Tip #2: Help your school counselor get to know you. It is easier to be an ally and an advocate for someone you know. So help your school counselor get to know you. If your school counselor offers individual appointments, schedule an appointment and meet face-to-face or virtually. If your school counselor distributes questionnaires, fill them out completely and thoroughly. If your school counselor holds group sessions, attend them and participate. They make these opportunities available for a reason.
Tip #3: Communicate any special requests respectfully and with as much lead time as possible. School counselors want to help you — that’s why they got into this profession. So even though they are busy, they are usually willing to grant special requests if you ask respectfully and give them as much lead time as possible. Respectfully means recognizing that your school counselor is obligated to follow policies and the law. Lead time makes it possible for them to squeeze a request into an already packed schedule. Need a recommendation for a summer program? Ask as soon as you know, not the day before the application is due!
Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.