How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Guidance counselors truly do enjoy teenagers and they have their best interests in mind, but they are very busy and often have huge caseloads. Be patient with them and ask to chat about issues and concerns you may have when there is not a mad dash during deadlines or schedule making. Give them good news when you get it, ask how their day is going and say thank you every chance you get. Even if you just chat in the halls that is the beginning of a relationship and should be nurtured for the next four years.

Woodrow Dunn
Academic Counselor Freedom High School

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Begin by setting up an appointment with your high school guidance counselor early in the school year, preferably as a junior. Begin by working on a plan, (including possible universities) and educational goals. Know the testing dates, AP, SAT, or ACT. Do not wait until right before all deadlines are to be met. Invite your parents in to visit your guidance counselor and be honest on what funding is available. (It makes no sense whatsoever to waste time on application processes to universities that your parents cannot afford, or that you have zero possibility on getting scholarships to assist you financially). (For international students the application process and testing dates should be completed as soon as possible, so that you will have adequate time in getting the F-1 visa from the US Consulate in your respected nation). If you cannot make your appointment demonstrate courtesy and tell your guidance counselor prior. Return on a monthly basis and provide the updates the guidance counselor will need to know to assist you. Do not expect the guidance counselor to be your baby sitter. University level study requires self-discipline and motivation. You must begin to demonstrate both with your high school guidance counselor. Do not be afraid to inform your guidance counselor that you feel overwhelmed, but remember he/she cannot assist you if you do not visit them on a timely basis.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Frequent contact. Stop by or write an email (face-to face contact is better) to let him or her know about your latest accomplishment, or to ask questions about colleges, or to talk about your college plans, or just to talk and help him or her get to know you better. Counselors usually have responsibility for so many students that it's impossible to get to know all of them; so you need to take the initiative to help your counselor know you.

Brett Roer
College 101 Teacher / College Advisor College 101 Consulting, Founder

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

As a college advisor at a fairly large high school, the students who I have gone above and beyond in helping with their college application process were the students who were polite, professional, punctual, and willing to work as hard as they expected me to. Form your relationship with your school's college counselor or your guidance counselor as early as possible, and make appointments when appropriate in your school to meet with them one-on-one. These counselors may be required to send in a counselor letter on your behalf, but I can tell you, the more I know a student, the stronger that letter will be! Try to bring with you the documents that can help them make college plans with you. This includes your transcript, PSAT/SAT/ACT scores, a copy of your family's taxes, personal essays you may have written, and a list of schools or majors you may already be interested in. Bring anything with you that allows the counselor to give you advice based on YOU and your situation, so the more personal information you can provide, the more tailored advice you can receive. Also, when you ask your counselor for help, they may give you next steps, such as signing up for websites, conducting research, writing an essay, etc. The students I find myself most likely to help after the initial meeting are the ones who come back having done what I asked, so that our next meeting can move forward, not review again what I've already asked you to do. Remember, your counselor has already done all of these steps for themselves, they are trying to help YOU go to college, so be on point! Also, make sure you keep appointments; counselors can be working with hundreds of other students, and their time is valuable. If your counselor has a school email address they are confortable providing, you can also use that to check in with them so they can respond to you on their own time. Finally, I found that students who were able to find out about scholarships, special programs at colleges, or interesting facts and were willing to share them with me to share with my other students was always a plus when it came time to helping them. GOOD LUCK!

Ashley Pepsin

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

With a background in school counseling, I can tell you that this is tough. The nature of school counseling right now is grim. Many school counselors report having more than 300 students assigned to work with them, creating a huge caseload of students lost in a crowd. Make yourself known. Be the squeaky wheel. Be organized. I hate to say it, but be proactive in your college search. Seek out your school counselor for advice, yes, but be prepared before you meet with them. Have some starting point. Do what you can to help them help you. Constant contact is always good!

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Your high school counselor is extremely important. Not only can he or she be your advocate throughout high school, helping you deal with any problems that might arise, but you will need a recommendation from your counselor when it comes time to apply to college. I recommend that you go into your counselor a few times a year, starting in 9th grade, to say hello and mention anything noteworthy that has happened. Keep your counselor updated on awards or accomplishments-send emails if you can't schedule an appointment. Make sure your counselor knows about your academic expectations and talk to your counselor about college no later than 11th grade. When it comes time for your counselor to write a recommendation, send him or her your resume with a brief summary of activities or attributes you think are particularly important. And remember, counselors have heavy workloads and are often highly stressed. Be pleasant and patient in all your dealings with him or her and say thank you when appropriate.

Nicole Weinrich
Resident Assistan/Student/ Writer Miami University

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

The best way to build a relationship with any professional in your life, is to positively insert yourself. Show your guidance counselor that you care about your future and your success. Counselors want to help you, but the mostly want to teach you to help yourself. Show up to meetings prepared and with questions for them outlined. When you show commitment and organization, it makes their job that much easier.

Ryan Vann
Academic Counselor

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

Showing your counselor how much you care about your current and future situation, definitely helps. I always advise asking questions. Not only will you gain information, asking questions also shows the counselor that you are interested in their expertise and opinion. This may open up opportunities, you never though were available. I had a great relationship with my Guidance Counselor in High School and that relationship opened up many doors for me while in High School. She also helped me become who I am today.

Natalie Sanchez Campos
Owner Next Step LLC

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

The same way you build a good relationship with any other human: be genuine, be respectful, be on time, be appreciative, and share information about your milestone successes! Also, ask for his or her preferred communication method, best times to reach him or her, and follow-through on what you say you are going to do! P.S. I love to volunteer for high school guidance counselors because I respect their work. They serve in so many ways for many, many people.

Andrew Belasco
CEO College Transitions LLC

How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

As private college counselors, we are well-versed in the criticisms of school-based counseling. Unavailable, inexperienced, incompetent, lazy—these are the words that some within our industry often use to describe the professionals who work hardest to establish safe and supportive learning environments for our children. Research consistently shows that school counselors improve the academic achievement, health and psychological and emotional well-being of students—not to mention their college prospects; yet many continue to argue that our counselors are becoming obsolete. This argument is not only unproductive, it’s untrue. Yes, growing caseloads and increasingly manifold job roles have limited the extent to which many counselors can focus on college planning, making private counseling a progressively attractive solution to many students and families. However, it is important to understand that most school counselors can still prove as powerful advocates during the college application process. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are a few things that your school counselor can do (and that your private counselor cannot do) to help you get into college: 1. Provide a letter of recommendation. Most colleges still require a letter of recommendation from a school official. At most high schools, this letter is written by a school counselor and is submitted as part of the secondary school report. Counselor-written letters that provide a personal, thorough and comprehensive account of the student can have tremendous influence on an admissions decision. 2. Engage a college admissions office. At most high schools, counselors serve as the point of contact when admissions offices have questions or concerns about a student’s application. In the case of a “borderline application,” counselors may also provide an additional key piece of information or point of persuasion that moves a student into the “admitted” pile. 3. Offer school-specific information and strategies. How many applicants from your high school have been admitted into the college(s) of your choice? Which teachers write compelling letters of recommendation? What courses are sufficiently rigorous and/or draw high praise? It is likely that a school counselor can answer these and other similar questions. In doing so, they direct students to the information, personnel and activities that improve their college credentials and help them make the most out of their high school experience. Evidently, school counselors can still do a lot for college-bound students; however, reaping the college-related benefits of school-based counseling requires that students be proactive. Today’s typical school counselor, though competent and hard-working, faces time constraints that preclude him from forging a deep and productive relationship with every student on his caseload. Therefore, you must take initiative, in particular, by: 1. Starting early and visiting often. Introduce yourself to your school counselor as soon as possible, preferably before junior year, and make it a point to provide regular updates about your life inside and outside the classroom. 2. Staying organized. This is especially important during your senior, as you and your counselor strive to negotiate the deluge of demands associated with the college application process. Staying organized requires that you complete application-related tasks on time and provide your counselor with all of the information she needs to submit a secondary school report, letter(s) of recommendation, and any other school-specific materials—well before the admission deadlines at your prospective colleges. 3. Respecting boundaries. Do not make same-day requests and do not demand or expect that your counselor answer emails or phone calls outside of school hours. Being attuned and sympathetic to the many job demands placed upon your school counselor can go a long way in building rapport, as well as mutual commitment to your college-related goals. In sum, it is true that expanding job responsibilities have left many school counselors unable to adequately assist in several areas of college planning, but these dedicated professionals can still have a positive and significant impact. Students and parents are wise to consider the multitude of benefits that school counselors may bring to the college admissions process. Private counselors are wise to do the same, while acknowledging that cooperation—not criticism—is the only way to provide our students with the college-related guidance they need and deserve.