Some students may know their guidance counselor well, while others may have little to no contact with her when during the college admissions process. Relationships with guidance counselors may depend on the size of the high school, the number of students for whom the guidance counselor is responsible, and other factors.


If you want to make the most of the resources your guidance counselor can offer and have her serve as your advocate, you must do some of the legwork to form a connection with her. Build a relationship before application reason rolls around, so you stand out, and she understands your strengths and interests. Follow her advice when she offers it, and answer any questions she asks you. Also understand her limitations: She is juggling many students and has relationships with colleges, and must weigh these other factors against your needs.


Read on for three specific ways your guidance counselor can help you and what you can do to make the most of them.


1. Your College List

Depending on your school, it may be standard to discuss your college list with your guidance counselor, or you may be responsible for building it yourself. Either way, it’s always a good idea to discuss your list and ask for recommendations based on your own academic strengths and passions.


Give your guidance counselor additional information that will factor into your choices, such as location preferences. You may want to bring her a proposed list and ask for her feedback, as well as ask her to assess the balance among safety, middle, and reach schools. Check out 5 Tips for Building Your First College List for more factors to consider.


You may want to sit down with your guidance counselor while composing several drafts of your list. Be receptive to her feedback. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything she tells you to do—ultimately, this is your decision—but if she knows you well and tells you that, for instance, a specific school is a reach, heed that advice and understand that you should come up with a backup.


2. Your Recommendation Letter

Unlike with teachers, you can’t choose who writes your guidance counselor letter. This letter will highlight different aspects of your transcript and achievements. 


Make sure you discuss what you want your guidance counselor to highlight in the letter. Describe your goals and academic ambitions so she can incorporate them. Also identify any personal achievements about which she may not be aware.

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3. Your Primary Line of Communication

Your guidance counselor is responsible for sending your transcript along with a profile of your school to the colleges on your list. She may also have relationships with admissions officers at different colleges and will touch base with them about your candidacy.


Still, it’s up to you to keep track of your applications. Give your guidance counselor important dates and deadlines, but don’t nag her. Depending on the strength of her relationship with different colleges, she may find out about your application status before you do. She’s not going to tell you whether you got in, though, so don’t pester her with questions about it.


Your best course of action to present yourself authentically, make sure she knows what schools you’re especially enthusiastic about, and respond to any questions, forms, other materials she asks you to review.



Your Guidance Counselor’s Role

Your guidance counselor’s role depends most on your individual high school. She may have a heavy hand in the admissions process or play more of a supporting role. To better understand your specific circumstance and how your guidance counselor affects the process, try talking to previous students from your high school.


If you’re aware of some potential limitations of your guidance counselor and think you might need more help, you may want to look into outside programs; CollegeVine, for example, offers an application guidance program that will assist you with all aspects of the admissions process. Keep in mind the many other people who can support you during the process as well, including other teachers and parents.


Interested in our College Application Guidance Program? When you sign up for our program, we carefully pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in publishing. She also writes, dreams of owning a dog, and routinely brags about the health of her orchid.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine