Whether your student is embarking on their first year of high school or plugging along with their sophomore or junior year, the concept of academic tracking is one to consider. Simply put, tracking is the series of courses your student will be slotted to take each year of high school within the five core courses: English, history/social studies, math, science, and world language.
Students all around the country are returning to their high schools this fall, and seniors are heading back with the special thrill and anxiety that comes with college applications. Those who have made the most of their time this summer will be pretty close to finishing their college list and will have a serviceable draft (maybe even a finished draft!) of their college essays. But even if you’ve taken care of a huge part of your college apps on your end, you’ll need to enlist the help of your high school guidance counselor to ensure everything is finished by the appropriate deadlines. A little extra thoughtfulness will go a long way towards making your application even stronger, and improving your chances of getting into your top choices. Here are some steps you should take to make the most of your high school counselor.
1. Establish a timeline that works for your high school guidance office
Whether your school is public or private, big or small; whether you have an independent counselor or are working with the counselors at school, one truth remains: this is your college process. Independent and school counselors are there to help, but the more you put into the college process, the more you’ll get out of it. So be proactive and seek out opportunities to work with a college consultant. There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself get the most from the college counseling you have available.
Always Be Prepared
Before any meetings, get organized. Pull together all your paperwork, transcripts, testing results, timelines and checklists in anticipation of meeting with your counselor. Make a list of the questions that you need to get answered so you can write down answers during the meeting. Make sure to take notes; not only will it make it easier to remember what you have to do, but it will show your parents how responsible you are in taking ownership of the college process.
It’s a pretty common scenario, especially at larger high schools: guidance counselors not personally knowing each and every student to whom they are assigned. This might not worry you much as a parent until you rummage through your child’s set of college applications and realize this same guidance counselor is required to write a letter of recommendation for her. But don’t panic, it’s not as dire a situation as you might think! Our college admissions experts help students get over this hurdle every year.
Though it’s true a personal connection between guidance counselor and student might be helpful in multiple respects, the purpose of the guidance letter is not necessarily meant to be personal. What information do school reports, as guidance recommendations are so often called, usually answer, then? Colleges are most curious about: