In this day and age, there is a wealth of information on colleges, admissions, careers, majors, and more available to aspiring college students. Blogs and other websites, countless books, and almost everyone you know have some advice to offer on what you should study or which school you should apply to.

 

With so many offering their input, it’s easy to forget one of the most valuable sources available to you in your college application process: your guidance counselor. In this blog post, we’ll break down some of the most helpful resources and services available to you at your guidance counselor’s office.

 

Variation Among Guidance Counselors’ Offices

 

Before we begin, it’s important to address that no two guidance counselor’s offices are the same. Some may be split into two branches: an administrative branch that dispenses mid-year reports and counselor recommendations, and an admissions- and career-oriented branch that offers the services described below. Others offer college-related advice, resources, and all the typical responsibilities of a guidance counselor in one department.

 

At some schools, guidance counselors may have an enormous amount of resources at their disposal, while others may be more limited in their offerings. Generally, private high schools tend to have better-endowed guidance counselor’s offices than their public counterparts, but for the most part, all offices offer the same basic kinds of help to students.

 

Choosing a College

 

If you’re looking for a central hub for college admissions information on your campus, the guidance counselor’s office is the place to go. Colleges send all their promotional materials directly to the guidance counselor’s office, so if you’re curious about a school, your guidance counselor’s office is a great place to get access to official viewbooks, pamphlets, and more resources that can help you make your decision.

 

If you don’t know where to start your college search, your counselor can help in that regard as well. They’re able to guide you through all the big decisions regarding your college search (public vs. private, large vs. small, urban vs. rural) as well as the small ones (liberal arts or professional degree, secular vs. ecumenical college, and more!). Speaking to someone who’s knowledgeable on the admissions and college selection process can be very helpful in making such a complex and nuanced decision.

 

In addition, many schools hold presentations for prospective students in the fall at guidance counselors’ offices. Such presentations are an opportunity to speak with admissions officers, ask any school-specific questions you may have about the applications process, receive promotional materials, and more.

 

Some high schools even hold college fairs where representatives from colleges all over the country provide materials and answer questions from prospective students. Even if your college’s guidance counselor’s office isn’t hosting a college fair, chances are a nearby school is, so be sure to do your research!

 

Applying to College

 

Not only are guidance counselors a valuable resource when conducting your college search, they can also help facilitate the grueling process of completing applications. You can reach out to guidance counselors for their advice on essays, extracurriculars, and more.

 

Getting to know your counselor is beneficial for many reasons; not only are they a great source of knowledge to utilize in your college search, developing close relationships with guidance counselors will allow them to write more personalized letters of recommendation – and remember, the counselor recommendation is a required part of your college application.

 

You may ask a favorite teacher or close friend to look over your personal essays, but there’s really no one at your school better qualified to revise your essays than a guidance counselor. Because these individuals are so knowledgable about the admissions process, they can offer valuable insight on how to interpret a prompt or what to include in your Common App statement. While English teachers may be able to ensure you have perfect grammar in your essays, in terms of content, guidance counselors are your best bet.

 

Many guidance counselors’ offices hold workshops in the fall on using the Common App or your state public school system’s application, writing your personal statements, and more. These workshops can be a great chance to learn more about what essays should contain and what topics work well for a personal statement, especially if you’re unsure on how to get started on your applications.

 

Guidance counselors can also help you perfect your extracurricular profile. For example, if you’re looking for a way to spend your upcoming summer, counselors can connect you with resources for summer internship searches or help you find a nonprofit to volunteer with. Whether it’s through guidance on a major service project, tips for perfecting internship applications, or advice on which extracurriculars to list on your application, guidance counselors are there to help.

 

Paying for College

 

In addition to being a trove of knowledge on all things relating to admissions, guidance counselors can also assist you with the process of applying for scholarships and completing your financial aid application. Counselors can connect you to sites or services for scholarship searches, or help you find local scholarships that are only available to students in your area.

 

They can also be helpful if the financial aid process is giving you grief. If you’re having trouble understanding your aid letter, or planning to appeal your financial aid decision, they can aid you in making the best informed decision on how to proceed and guide you through the appeals process, which may otherwise be a formidable undertaking.

 

Many guidance counselors’ offices even host annual scholarship programs for graduating seniors, in which local businesses and individuals award scholarships to members of the graduating class. If you haven’t had the time to conduct a rigorous scholarship search on your own time, local scholarship programs like this can be a great way to earn money for your college education.

 

At a time when so much information about the world of college admissions is floating around online, one of the best resources available to you, your guidance counselor, may go unnoticed and underutilized.

 

Setting up an appointment with a guidance counselor can put you on track for an easier, more productive application or scholarship season. In addition to the variety of admissions-related services guidance counselors can offer, they’re also available to you to help you deal with school-related stress, trouble with your schedule, or general advice about school and life. With such a great resource right on campus, applying to college can be simpler than you dreamed possible!

 

Anamaria Lopez

Anamaria Lopez

Managing Editor at CollegeVine Blog
Anamaria is an Economics major at Columbia University who's passionate about sharing her knowledge of admissions with students facing the applications process. When she's not writing for the CollegeVine blog, she's studying Russian literature and testing the limits of how much coffee one single person can consume in a day.
Anamaria Lopez