Your High School Counselor's Role When You Apply to College

When it's time to fill out college applications, your school counselor for college plays a central part. You're the one in charge, though. It’s up to you to ask your counselor for the help you need.

What Your High School Counselor Can Help You Do

What do school counselors do? Your school counselor sends important parts of your application to colleges. But that’s not your counselor's only role in the college application process. They can help you do all the following things, too.

Find Colleges

One role of counselors is to assist you in creating a list of colleges to research based on your interests and the characteristics of each college. When it comes time to narrow down your list, your counselor can show you how to categorize schools into reach, match, and safety colleges.

Understand Requirements

Colleges and universities have various application requirements. Many require applicants to submit an essay. Some may suggest applicants send scores from an admission test, such as the SAT or the ACT®. When you talk to a high school counselor, they can explain the requirements of each school and help you register for admission tests, if necessary.

Send Your Transcript

A school official is responsible for sending your high school transcript to the colleges you apply to. Some college applications come with transcript-request forms you can give to your counselor or other school official when it’s time to send your transcript to the schools of your choice.

Get Recommendations

Some colleges ask for a recommendation letter from a high school counselor. Some colleges don’t require a recommendation from a counselor. Nevertheless, if the college allows counselor recommendation submissions, consider asking your counselor for a letter of recommendation. Make sure your counselor knows you well enough to speak about your strengths, character, and personality. Before asking, it’s a good idea to check to see if the college allows you to submit recommendations beyond what’s required. Learn more about getting great recommendation letters.

Make the Most of Your Time with Your Counselor

College application season is an especially busy time for high school counselors. You can help your counselor help you by staying on top of the application process.

Here's how:

Be early.

Start doing tasks─researching colleges, collecting ideas for application essays, making requests for recommendation letters─well ahead of time. You'll make it easier for your counselor to give you timely answers when you need help.

Be organized.

Figure out a system for keeping track of application details and deadlines yourself. Read Applying to College: FAQ for tips.

Be responsible.

Your counselor can help in many ways, but applying to colleges is your task and your responsibility. It's up to you to ask your counselor for the help you need. Schedule appointments when you need to talk to them.

Be prepared.

When you meet with your counselor, have a list of questions ready. Know what you want to discuss.

Counseling for Life's Problems

If you have a problem in your personal life, a high school counselor can speak with you about it or tell you where you can get help. School counselors can discuss how to handle your parents' divorce or what to do if you're depressed. You can also go to a school counselor if you’re having a problem with another student. School counselors are trained to deal with everything from bullying to drug and alcohol abuse.