Top Five Questions to Ask Your Counselor While Preparing for Your Senior Year
Your school counselor is an excellent resource, one that you should utilize as you prepare to apply for college. Counselors are familiar with many colleges and universities across the country, they know which past students from your school have been admitted to colleges on your list, and they will be honest about which schools could be a good match for you.
I've put together several questions to help guide your conversation with your counselor at the end of junior year. This discussion will help you to focus your college search and identify outside resources, as well.
Your high school counselors are here to help, and so are your college admissions counselors.
What type of school do you think would be a good fit for me? (If you've visited college campuses, and liked any of them, an even better question might be: Do you know of any schools that are similar to that university?)
This question will help you to expand your college list. It can be easy to stick to schools you know. This can be because a friend attended, they have a highly selective admission process, or because they have a big-name sports program. However, there are literally thousands of schools across the country and many could be an excellent fit for your interests and personality. You won't hear about them unless you ask.
Keep in mind that your college list should include more than just well-known, highly selective schools. You should plan to have three types of schools on your list:
- Reach schools – Your GPA and/or test scores are below the school's average or their acceptance rate is low.
- Match schools – Your metrics should match or be slightly above their averages.
- Likely school – Your metrics are far above their averages.
Talking with your counselor about schools that they feel would be a good fit can help you build out this three-tiered list. Remember, you should have a genuine interest in every school you apply to, even your "likely" options.
Is my major of interest a good fit for me?
Make sure to take into account whether or not your academic strengths line up with your interests. If not, perhaps there is another option that your counselor can suggest. For instance, some students want to be engineers, but math is not their strongest subject. If that is the case for you, another option could be Engineering Technology, which has more of a hands-on focus with fewer theoretical math classes. Your counselor can help you identify alternate career paths that may have a similar focus but are more in line with your strengths.
What classes should I take senior year?
Now that you've discussed which majors are a good fit, make sure to discuss what prerequisite courses might be required. Check the websites of the colleges that interest you first to see what their requirements are (Drexel’s prerequisites are listed here) and then talk with your counselor to ensure you can take the classes you need.
How should I prepare for standardized testing?
If you've already taken an exam, bring in your results and talk through sections you'd like to improve. If not, you can discuss your performance in the high school classes that will correlate to the exam subjects. Your counselors may have suggestions for test preparation opportunities. There are many free online resources you can use that your counselor may be familiar with.
How do I apply for financial aid and scholarships?
Your college counseling office or college and career center often can help with questions related to the FAFSA or CSS Profile. They also may have resources available for local scholarships or funding that other students have obtained in the past. Remember to also look at the websites of the colleges on your list — many schools have additional scholarships for which you can apply.
I hope these questions are helpful as you prepare for your junior college meetings. Don't limit your conversation to these questions alone — ask anything that's on your mind! Your high school counselors are here to help, and so are your college admissions counselors. Feel free to reach out to us with questions, too, via firstname.lastname@example.org.