As college application season ramps up, you've probably noticed a lot of activity around your guidance counselor's office. Eventually, you'll need to get in there, too. Making sure you get your turn is all about being assertive, says Craig Meister, admissions expert and founder of AdmissionsIntel.com.
"To make the most of a guidance office, high school students do need to step up and take responsibility for their future," he says.
Here are some ways to get some quality guidance counselor face time and make the most of it:
Don't wait until the week before your applications are due to make an appointment with the guidance counselor. Aim to speak with them as early in the semester as possible, before the peak college application season.
"Students need to proactively reach out to their guidance counselors to understand how to reserve time with them," says Meister.
For instance, some schools have an online booking system, while others might have a sign-up sheet, or require making an appointment via a school secretary. It's on you to find out how to go about setting a meeting and sticking to it.
"I have current seniors who have booked several appointments with me online weeks in advance, and I have other students who passively sit on the sidelines," says Meister.
The latter are missing out on knowledge that can empower their college admissions process.
Guidance counselors are a great resource but are not there to make the decision for you. You need to walk into their office with an agenda, and some idea as to your educational goals. Do some research on potential schools of interest before your meeting, and think about the factors that are important to you.
"The student should prepare a list of questions or topics to discuss before the meeting to ensure the meeting accomplishes what the student needs it to for it to be considered useful," adds Meister.
Be respectful of your counselor's time
If you show up late or not at all, you're not only missing out on your chance for one-on-one advice, but you might just annoy someone who you may need on your side. Be punctual, prepared, and give your counselor your undivided attention -- in other words, keep cell phones stowed away and take notes.
Go with an open mind
Even if you think you've got everything figured out, remember that your guidance counselor has years of experience. It is their job to help guide college-bound students through the admissions process. They might also have relationships with admissions professionals or insider knowledge that can prove valuable as you embark on your college-bound journey. While you are ultimately responsible for making your own college decisions, the more insight you can get along the way, the more informed you'll be when it comes time to make a final decision.
Get your application items in order
Each school has a policy regarding how students must request transcripts and recommendations, and how far in advance these requests must be made, says Meister. Find out your school's policy so that you can stay on schedule.
"No matter the exact method of requesting, students should proactively ensure they understand the policy of their guidance office before the start of senior year to guarantee that their documents arrive at colleges of their choice in plenty of time before their deadlines," Meister adds.
Ultimately, your guidance counselor is someone you want in your corner — for advice, assistance, and support. Get to know them, and more importantly, give them the chance to get to know you.