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10 Things Juniors Should Cover with Their School College Counselor

It sure doesn't feel like "Spring Semester" here in the Northeast right now with snow and ice covering the landscape. But all across the country, high schools have commenced the second half of the school year. High school juniors are often assigned their college counselor right about now.

If you or your child will be meeting with the college counselor for the first time, you might wonder what to ask and what to cover. The last year and a half of high school dictates the college admissions process, from what classes to take during senior year to what to do this coming summer.

Here are some agenda items to speak to your college counselor about:

1. Review your proposed schedule for senior year.

Do not just meet the minimum requirements for high school graduation or for admission to college. Try to aim for all five core subjects even through senior year.

2. Discuss your testing plan.

When have you or will you take the ACT or SAT? Most students still end up taking one of these tests two to three times before applying to college. I see the best results in August or September of senior year as the second or third try!

3. Find out what information they need from you (the student and the parents) in order to write the counselor letter of recommendation.

For example, some college counselors ask for a "brag sheet" or resume. But the most thoughtful letters written by counselors are ones that reflect their own impressions of you rather than what you have to say about yourself and what you do. 

4. Bounce ideas off of them about summer plans.

I always recommend using the summer to do the things you don't have time to do during the school year. Internships, jobs, or projects that align with your major choice are always a smart move!

5. Talk about the teachers you are considering asking for letters of recommendation.

Most college-bound students should ask teachers by the end of junior year.

6. Go over the colleges on your list or ask about what colleges they would suggest.

I recommend a college list that is between 9 and 12 schools, with an equal number of "reach," "target," and "likely" schools on the list.

7. Ask about any special scholarships or fully-funded programs that might be a good fit based on what they know about you.

Many times, the college counselor is the one to nominate the student for prestigious scholarships at universities or through organizations.

8. Learn about what role they play in your process.

Do they approve your college list, edit your essays, or review your application before submission? A trusted adult with college admissions experience should!

9. Mention any cool things you like to do or participate in as they might be interested in learning more details about it.

As a college counselor at a high school, I used to love to actually watch, observe, and appreciate my students doing what they do best. For example, watching an actress on stage performing in front of the whole school gave me such great insight into the young woman I was advocating for!

10. Don't be a stranger to your college counselor—no matter how busy they or you are.

Even if you only get one formal meeting with them, drop in to wish them well before a break or drop them an email to give them a quick update about something you are proud of. These little moments add up and can provide your college counselor with more details about your life and identity.

READ MORE: 10 Things to Consider Before Meeting With Your School College Counselor

The best job in the world is being a college counselor. In the cold, winter days of January, I find inspiration in the next group of college-bound students. Like your college counselor at your school, I am getting to know all of the students in my Application Nation - Class of 2023 group right now. They are our future. I would do anything to help them achieve their goals. And it is my hope that your own college counselor at your high school would do the same!