Your high school counselor is an excellent resource when it comes to college preparation, planning, and exploration. Not only can they help you craft the ideal class schedule, but they can 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 handle the entire student body on their own! So it’s unlikely they’ll be able to hand over all the information you need or want on a silver platter. No, it’s really up to you to utilize their help.
We’ve compiled a list of great questions to ask your counselor, in order to make the most of their experience and skills. You can use this list as a sort of guide when you go in to talk to your counselor about your future education.
High School Requirements
- Am I on track for graduation?
It’s always a good idea to check in with your counselor to make sure all your ducks are in a row. Even if you’re fairly sure you’re set for graduation and have all the requirements, it can’t hurt to double-check.
- 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 AP or IB classes that are more challenging than standard classes.
- Can I opt out of PE (or other classes)?
Sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to opt out of certain classes if you meet some 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.
- Which AP courses would you recommend for me?
Your counselor will have insight into the various Advanced Placement (AP) classes available at the school, and can point you in the right direction. Remember, don’t overload on AP classes and risk burning out.
College Entrance Requirements
- Do I have the class requirements to enter XYZ college?
Colleges often have criteria a student has to 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 that you’re fully equipped to apply to a certain college.
- When should I take the ACT/SAT? Should I retake?
The 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 (and likely raise your score!).
- 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.
- Can we go over my transcript?
Sitting down and looking over your grades, schedule, and accomplishments can be a big help, especially when looking at it with your counselor. Together you can highlight your strengths and work on your weaknesses, as well as plan ahead for next semester’s class schedule.
- 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 maybe hadn’t considered before. Counselors should have the low-down on when a fair is coming and which colleges are attending.
- Do you have brochures/information on XYZ college?
If you have a particular college in mind, ask your counselor about it! They will likely have brochures, pamphlets, guides, promo material, or websites for you to peruse to get a better idea of what that college is like.
- What sort of grades are standard at XYZ?
Oftentimes colleges publish the average GPAs or test scores of their incoming freshman class—which means you can compare yours to their averages. It’s a great way to get a feel for the academic fit of a college you’re interested in.
- Can you put me in touch with former students who ended up going to XYZ?
Who better to ask about a college than a former student from your high school? It’s definitely worth asking about.
- What does XYZ 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.
- 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.
- Should I apply 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 things. It helps to have a conversation about it with your counselor.
- What can I do to strengthen my application?
Maybe your essay could use a little kick, 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.
- Do you have any scholarship resources?
There are quite literally thousands of scholarships out there, and multiple ways of searching them out. One great resource is your very own high school counselor.
- 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.
- What sort of aid does XYZ college 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 stack up to others who have attended that school.
- Are there any financial aid seminars coming up?
Schools often have a financial aid night that informs families about aid options. It’s a really, really good idea to attend and learn more about the savings you can make, and the steps you can take to earn even more aid.
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