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College 101

Your Counselor
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Yes, their office may be down that hallway that smells funny, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting to know your counselor as soon as you can. Why? He is there to help you with lots of stuff, but he probably won’t come looking for you. You need to make the first move. Good luck, grasshopper.

 Top 10 Things to Expect from Your Counselor

  1. They will address you as “ma’am,”whether or not you are female
  2. They will be an excellent pastry chef in their spare time
  3. They will look almost exactly like Ryan Gosling
  4. They will have a cute little catch phrase, like “Got any gum?”
  5. They will want to show you pictures of their kids. Deal with it.
  6. They will pronounce GPA as if it is a word rather than as an acronym
  7. They will have an entire drawer full of Skittles
  8. They will be bald. Not balding – bald.
  9. They will know your parents personally, so don’t try any funny stuff
  10. They will wish they were somewhere, anywhere else

Okay, but… what can you actually expect from your counselor?

It depends. There are different types of counselors. Some specialize in high school guidance, some in career and vocational help, some in psychological support, some in papier-mâché, and some - and these are the ones you should be looking for - are experts in helping you get into college. Bingo… that’s the one you want.

What kind of help? Are they going to call the admissions office themselves, turn on the charm and start sweet-talking? Are they going to give you a $150k loan so you don’t have to worry about financial aid?

Mm… that’d be nice. Unfortunately, counselors are only there to guide you through high school and toward the college career of your dreams. So the help is a little more subtle and indirect than you might have hoped, but still pretty invaluable.

Some services provided by counselors:

  • Scheduling a College-Prep Load: College Counselors know what classes look good on applications, and can help make sure your schedule will allow you to Beef Up Your Transcript. Unless you’re vegan, in which case they can help you kale up your transcript.
  • Meeting Deadlines and Requirements: Your counselor should be able to help you stay on track with application steps and deadlines, and give you a hand preparing for and registering for standardized tests like the PSAT, ACT, SAT and SAT II. You may spend one entire session just working on filling in bubbles. It’s an art, really.
  • Suggesting Colleges to Consider: Counselors have been there and done that. They have a lot of knowledge about different schools from sea to shining sea. Tell them What You Want and What You Need in a school, and they might clue you in to a great fit. Or they might be able to tell you which ones to run screaming from.
  • Providing Enrichment Opportunities: Counselors might be able to hook you up with experiences that can enrich your application and high school career. Also, if they never tried out for the school play themselves, they can live vicariously through you. Just let them. It’s their only joy in life. 
  • Besides helping schedule you for Honors and Advanced Placement Classes, your counselor may have a pool of internship or enrichment courses available. So… come on into the pool. Water’s fine.

This is not something to put off. (Leave the procrastination for your homework and household chores). Make an appointment with your counselor this minute (unless it’s before 11 am or after 2 pm) and go have a chat.

They usually have a ton of students in need of assistance, so the more (and sooner) you stick your nose into their office, the more likely you are to get help. And the more likely you are to smell something delicious baking.*

*See #2 from list above

Your counselor should know your name and your story – you want them lying awake at night hatching plans for you. They can sleep when they’re dead.

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