Your high school counselor is an excellent resource when it comes to questions about college preparation, planning, and exploration. They can help you craft the ideal class schedule, and also give you a leg up on college searches and applications.
But counselors are busy, and they have many other students to help in addition to you. Some counselors even handle the entire student body on their own! This makes it unlikely that they’ll seek you out to give you all the information you need, so it’s up to you to utilize their help.
We’ve compiled a list of great questions to ask your counselor about college, so you can use this as a guide on how to prepare for this next step in your education.
Questions to ask High School Counselor: High School Requirements
1. Am I on track for graduation?
This must be in the top 10 questions to ask your high school counselor, right? Before planning for college, it’s a good idea to make sure you have everything in line before graduation gets too close. Even if you’re fairly sure you’re set for graduation and have all the requirements, it can’t hurt to double-check.
2. How can I increase academic rigor in my class schedule?
Colleges want to see students challenging themselves. One great way is by having academic rigor. This can include Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes that are more challenging than standard classes. Your counselor may have more insight into how you can pursue these classes in college, or maybe even how some of your current AP or IB classes count as college credit.
3. Can I opt out of PE (or other classes)?
Sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to opt out of certain classes if you meet certain criteria. For example, if you participate in a school sport, you may be able to skip out on that PE requirement—which leaves you an open schedule spot for an elective that will impress colleges, or more time to make sure you achieve the best grades and test scores as possible ahead of college admissions.
4. Which AP courses would you recommend for me?
Your counselor will have insight into the various AP classes available at your school and can point you in the right direction. Remember, to carefully consider the level of intensity and work load you can handle, especially if you’re involved in extracurriculars or have an after-school job.
College Entrance Requirements
5. Do I have the class requirements to enter my desired college?
Colleges often have criteria that students must meet before being considered for acceptance. It might be four years of core classes or a certain proficiency in a foreign language. Check with your counselor to ensure you’re fully equipped to apply to a certain college.
6. When should I take the ACT/SAT? Should I retake it?
These two entrance exams are given a lot of weight in your application, so it’s important to be on top of the ACT/SAT. Planning out your exams with your counselor can help solidify your plans to study and take the tests. Do it early enough, and you’ll have the opportunity to retake it (and likely raise your score!).
7. Are there any ACT/SAT prep resources available at the school?
Many schools offer ACT/SAT test prep and review sessions to help students brush up on concepts they either haven’t learned about yet or haven’t discussed in a while. It’s a great idea to attend these review sessions because they’re usually free, and they may help you raise your score (which could turn into more financial aid!).
8. Can we go over my transcript?
Inquiries about transcripts may not be exciting questions to ask your high school counselor, though they are necessary to know where your academic standing is. Sitting down and looking over your grades, schedule, and accomplishments can be a big help for college preparation. Together you can highlight your strengths and work on your weaknesses, as well as plan ahead for next semester’s class schedule.
9. Are there any college fairs coming up?
A college fair is a great way to get information on the colleges you’re interested in, as well as learn about schools you hadn’t considered before. Counselors should have the foresight on when a fair is coming and which colleges are attending. You can also visit the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) website for national college fairs.
10. Do you have brochures or information about certain colleges?
If you have a particular college in mind, ask your counselor about it! They will likely have brochures, pamphlets, guides, promotional materials, or websites for you to peruse to get a better idea of what that college is like.
11. What sort of grades are standard at my desired college?
Oftentimes colleges publish the average GPAs or test scores of their incoming freshman class—which means you can compare your marks to their averages. It’s a great way to get a feel for the academic fit of a college you’re interested in.
12. Can you connect me with former students who ended up going to my desired college?
Who better to ask about a college than a former student from your high school? Your counselor may have someone in mind who can give you the run-down on what student life is like at that college. They may be able to provide you with uncut information that will help you fully prepare for college life and its academic demands.
13. What do colleges require in their applications?
Different colleges have different requirements. While largely the same, one college might require 3 letters of recommendation while another doesn’t need them at all. Your counselor might have some information about the requirements for a certain college that will help you better prepare for the application process.
14. Would you look over my application/essay?
An extra pair of eyes is always helpful when it comes to reviewing something. Not only will they be able to point out simple things like punctuation or grammatical errors, but counselors can also give you tips on how to clarify certain things or what to emphasize. They know what colleges are looking for, so their insight is valuable.
15. Should I apply for ED or EA?
Some students prefer to apply Early Decision / Early Action—meaning they know if they’re accepted into a college earlier than the regular decision crowd. There are, of course, pros and cons in doing this. Having a conversation about it with your counselor can help you make this decision.
16. What can I do to strengthen my application?
Maybe your essay could use a little spicing up, or maybe you spent too much time focusing on minor accolades rather than the activity you’ve been doing for five years. Either way, counselors will be able to show you how to beef up your application and make it stronger and more impressive to college admissions teams.
17. Do you have any scholarship resources?
There are quite literally thousands of scholarships out there, and multiple ways of searching for them. One great resource is your very own high school counselor.
18. Can you help me with the FAFSA and other aid forms?
Even if your counselor can’t sit down and complete the FAFSA with you (you’ll likely have to do it with your parents), they might be able to give you some tips and guidelines for how to file for financial aid.
19. What sort of aid do colleges offer to students like me?
Financial aid packages from colleges can make a huge difference when it comes to the cost of attendance. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a significant aid package. Ask your counselor how you stand out from others who have attended that school.
20. Are there any financial aid seminars coming up?
Schools often have a financial aid night that informs families about aid options. It’s a great idea to attend and learn more about the savings you can keep, and the steps you can take to earn even more aid.
Do you still have a list of burning questions to ask your counselor about college? We can help! Use College Raptor’s FREE tools to discover personalized college matches, career options, and potential financial aid from schools around the country.