How to have a productive meeting with your school counselor

Woman and teen girl discussing paperwork in a library

One of the most valuable college prep resources is available to you every day — your school counselor.

Your school counselor can help you with almost everything related to attending college, from helping you find the right school to navigating options for financial aid. But they can only help you if you’re prepared to make the most of your time together.

Here are six ways to have a productive meeting with your guidance counselor:

1. Talk about yourself

Be open and honest about your current interests and goals for college and beyond. Your counselor wants to help you find the college that’s right for you. The better your counselor knows you, the better able they are to recommend schools for you to explore.

Share with your counselor:

  • Your current interests and goals for your college experience
  • Careers you’re considering
  • Classes you enjoy
  • Your extracurricular activities


Bring a list of schools that interest you

Your counselor will point you toward schools that may be a good fit based on your grades and interests, but having examples of schools that appeal to you may help them identify similar schools you may not have explored.

As you create your list, you may want to consider:

  • Type of school
  • School size and location
  • Academic programs
  • Campus amenities

Ensure you’re on the right track

While each school’s admissions requirements vary, there are some basics that are true for all applications. With that in mind, you should talk to your guidance counselor to make sure you know the details of what’s required for your desired school so you can make adjustments if needed.

Example questions include:

  • What type of classes should I be taking this year, and what level (AP, honors, etc.) would you recommend?
  • What kind of grades and test scores do I need for the schools I’m interested in?
  • What kind of summer job and extracurricular experience would help me get into my desired school?
  • Should I plan to take the SAT/ACT?


Make a plan

During junior year, work with your guidance counselor to set deadlines for your essays, applications, and scholarships. Ask them if you should consider early action, and make sure you have a list of college preparation tips before you head home for the summer. Guidance counselors can provide free, expert eyes on your resume and college essay — from the outline to the finished product.

Discuss financial aid and scholarships

While your guidance counselor can help point you toward schools that will work within your budget, they can also help you get answers to more in-depth financial questions and can provide information on scholarships and grants that could be beneficial to you.

Important questions to ask:

  • Are there any scholarships you know about, and do you see me as a strong applicant?
  • Do you have any recommendations for on-campus jobs while I’m at school?
  • Could you connect me with other students you’ve worked with who have gone to this school who might have additional information?


Actively listen — and take notes

You’ll go over a lot of information with your guidance counselor during each meeting. Actively listen to what they’re saying, and ask questions if they touch on a topic that you don’t understand (say, the difference between weighted and nonweighted GPA). Be sure to also bring a notepad to take notes and write down any to-dos your counselor suggests.

For more helpful advice, including a stay-on-track checklist, download the Get College Ready® Planning Guide.

Want to read more about managing your senior year tasks?

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