When you return to school this fall, you may have the opportunity to meet with your guidance counselor – take full advantage of it! A guidance counselor advises students on academic matters and is an excellent resource for a range of issues. Counselors know the culture of your school, and they also have ties to various colleges and universities. Keep the following five questions in mind to make the most of your beginning-of-the-year conference:
What can I do this year to prepare for college?
Regardless of your grade level, ask your guidance counselor how you can prepare for college (and application season). Here are six application essay mistakes that you should avoid! If you are a senior, what does your counselor suggest for managing teacher recommendations and admissions essays? To which schools should you apply? If you are a junior, inquire about ACT/SAT prep or about visiting campuses. If you are a freshman or sophomore, your counselor can suggest activities or classes beneficial to your post-secondary goals. Remember that the college application process is not meant to be an intense, stressful sprint to the finish line. Rather, you can take steady, thoughtful strides throughout your high school career. Your guidance counselor can show you how.
Can you recommend any classes, clubs, or leadership positions?
You will likely have finalized your schedule by the time you meet with your guidance counselor in August or September. However, ask him or her to recommend classes for the following semester or year, and do not forget to let him or her know about your current academic interests and career aspirations. Your guidance counselor may be able to suggest classes that you are unfamiliar with, in addition to clubs or leadership positions that can enhance your in-class learning. Remember extracurriculars boost college success! For example, if you are interested in writing, your counselor might suggest the newspaper club. If math and science are your passions, he or she may recommend a robotics team. Tap into his or her knowledge about your school’s opportunities.
How can I best balance academics and extracurricular activities?
As a high school student, you have many important commitments to juggle. Speak with your guidance counselor about study habits or time management skills you can develop. While your parents and friends will often offer excellent insight as well, your counselor can provide advice specific to your classes and teachers. Keep an open mind to different ways of studying and organizing your time, and remember that you can schedule subsequent meetings with your guidance counselor should you have questions about a certain class. here are some great tipos to help you choose your extracurricular activities.
What school or community resources might be helpful for me?
While the bulk of your school day will be spent in the classroom, your school may have outside resources if you are, for example, researching a project or seeking a job or internship. You may not be aware of possible opportunities with tutors, or connections your school has with neighborhood organizations. Inquire about these potential opportunities. Your counselor may be able to direct you to a public library, a teacher within your school, or a community member who can better address your concerns.
How can I make the most of my year?
In high school, you may be focused on the day-to-day: completing your classwork and homework, studying for quizzes and tests, etc. Ask your guidance counselor how you can maximize your time, especially regarding college applications, a summer internship or job, or even part-time work during the school year. He or she can give you guidance as to how to use your time and what to prioritize when life gets busy. Asking this question when you meet with your guidance counselor this fall can help you settle into the rhythm of the school year.
This fall, keep these five questions close at hand when you confer with your guidance counselor. Investing in the meeting will allow you to leave clear-headed about the year ahead. You will be able to mine your guidance counselor’s resources for opportunities that will, ultimately, enrich your own education.