10 Questions you Should Ask your Guidance Counselor By lwilliams The beginning of the school year is often a great time to stop by your guidance counselor’s office and schedule a visit. For new students, this is the perfect time to introduce yourself to someone who may become very important in helping you reach your academic goals. If you are a returning student, take this time to update your counselor on any changes in your college plans or activities you may have participated in over the summer. Just remember, he/she may have limited time with you (depending on the size of your high school), so come to the meeting prepared. If you’re not sure where to start, consider this list of questions you should ask your guidance counselor. 1. What courses do I need to complete for college? Most colleges require a minimum number of years in several subjects. Your counselor should be able to assist you in creating a plan to meet or exceed these requirements. 2. Should I consider higher-level courses, such as Honors or Advanced Placement (AP)? Depending upon your previous classes and grade point average, registering for more challenging courses may be an option for you. 3. What grade point average would I need to be accepted into college? If you know where you may want to attend college, your counselor should be able to give you an idea of what grade point average you will need to be competitive during the admissions process. 4. Is the school hosting any college fairs or financial aid nights this fall? Find out if your high school offers any free college or financial aid workshops during or after school. Be sure to share these dates with your parents and schedule the workshops you are interested in attending on your calendar. 5. What electives should I consider? Not all electives are created equally. Check with your guidance counselor to see which may carry more weight during the college admission process. 6. Which college entrance exams should I take this year? Depending on your current grade level, you may want to consider the SAT, ACT and/or AP exams. Your counselor should be able to explain the differences in the exams and when it is best to take them. 7. What colleges have recent graduates attended? If you are interested in a specific college, your guidance counselor may be able to help you connect with recent graduates who may be able to give you some advice or even provide a guided tour of the college, should you decide to visit. 8. Do you have any information on financial aid? Many guidance counselors keep a scholarship directory of local, state, and national awards. They may also be able to give you information on other resources, such as free online scholarship search services and how to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 9. What careers or majors should I consider? If you’re not sure what college major may be best for you, chances are your guidance counselor will be able to direct you to some resources that can help you narrow down your choices. He/she may also have information on internships or volunteer opportunities that may help you decide which path is right for you. 10. When should I request letters of recommendation? Your guidance counselor is often a good resource for a letter of recommendation. Find out when the best time to ask for the letter is and how much time he/she needs to complete one for you. He/she may also be able to identify other teachers or mentors who may be good candidates for additional letters, if needed. It’s also a good idea to review your transcript with your guidance counselor. He/she will be able to identify any areas that may need improvement, including extracurricular activities and community service. Also, consider asking your guidance counselor to give you a list of important college tasks you should work on this fall; not only will it help motivate you, but also provide you with something to discuss when you meet again in the spring. Remember, your guidance counselor is there to help you succeed. All you have to do is ask.