Senior Year College Counseling: What to Know and How to Prepare
The college application period is a tricky time in your student’s life. How do you go about choosing a school? What are the requirements of that school? How do you pick a major? How much do grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities factor in? What are the deadlines? There is a lot to navigate, and most schools offer senior year college counseling. This can be a huge advantage in getting ahead of all the logistics involved in the application process.
If you know the right things to research and the right questions to ask!
Getting an early start is important and most students are advised to start assessing their needs and thinking about what they want to study before their senior year even begins. Some of these decisions involve doing a deep dive into what they want in a school:
- Their major and areas of study (if they are going into marine biology, choose schools near an ocean!)
- In-state or out-of-state
- The size of the campus
- The student population and social atmosphere (diversity, culture, activities, student life, etc)
- Proximity to necessities
Once your student starts meeting with their college counselor, here are some of the topics they will want to address:
- Their major selection
- Schools they are interested in, their admission requirements, and acceptance rates
- Application deadlines including those for early action and early decision
- Financial aid and how to apply
- Scholarships and how to apply
- Transcript and test score review
- Entrance essays
- Resume building
- How to interview and interact with admissions representatives
- Getting letters of recommendation
With all this information, and the deadlines associated with it, it would be helpful to start a file (digital or analog) to keep track of questions, information, and pertinent application items. Having the information at hand may eliminate the “oh I forgot to…” moments that are easy to come by during this hectic period. Include a calendar of important deadline dates, interview appointments etc. to also keep your student organized.
A commitment to the college counseling process is vital in making sure the things go smoothly. Your student should be motivated to:
- Keep open lines of communication between themselves, their parents, and their counselors
- Follow directions to the letter
- Complete and submit their applications by the deadlines
- Write the essays themselves. Admissions reps know when a parent has penned the essay!
- Send in their test scores if applicable
- Prepare for and schedule their college interviews
- Help you understand the financial aid process, and what documents are required
Your role, as a parent or guardian, in college counseling is to:
- Commit to a weekly day/time to discuss progress and all things college, rather than daily to avoid burnout
- Provide information as necessary (tax forms, personal information, educational background etc.)
- Become familiar with how financial aid, loans, and scholarships works along with the costs associated with your student’s education
- Resist the urge to push your student into applying at schools they have no interest in
- Understand that some factors are out of your student’s control
Given this is a stressful time, encouragement and emotional support is critical. Going into this process it is important to know that the college admissions climate is changing, and sometimes even a flawless application is not enough. College acceptance does not measure your student’s self-worth!