What your rising senior should ask their high school counselor now


As your rising high school senior prepares to choose a college, one of the best resources they have to help them is their guidance counselor. Conveniently located on their high school campus, guidance counselors hold a wealth of information about college, and they’re eager to share it.

When your student is sitting across from their guidance counselor, they might struggle to know what they should be asking. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of questions (and the reasons your student should ask them) to get the college conversation started with their counselor.

Can we review my transcript?

Reviewing their transcript with their counselor can help your student see which classes they were successful in and which classes interested them most. That can help them identify their career goals and the college major that will get them there. They’ll also see their GPA, which they’ll need to be aware of when reviewing admission requirements for various colleges.

What classes do I need to take next year?

Your student doesn’t want to be close to finishing their senior year only to find out they’re missing a required class and they don’t get to graduate. Preventing this scenario is what the guidance counselor is for. They can let your student know if they are on track to graduate, and which classes they need to take to walk the stage and collect their diploma next year.

What can you tell me about signing up for college entrance exams like the SAT or ACT (or PSAT/PreACT)?

If your student is planning to take the SAT or ACT, they’ll need to complete it by December of their senior year. Most students take it during their junior year, giving them time to retake it if necessary. Your student’s guidance counselor can suggest study aids and tips for taking these exams, as well as times, dates and locations the tests will be offered, and how to sign up to take one.

Do you know about any upcoming college fairs?

College fairs are an ideal way for your student to get a lot of information on a lot of colleges in a short period of time. At college fairs, numerous colleges have booths where they offer an opportunity for your student to ask questions of college representatives and collect a bunch of printed material about the participating colleges. Your student’s guidance counselor has the lowdown on where and when college fairs in your area are taking place.

What resume-building activities would you suggest I get involved in?

Your student might want to think about using some of the time they have left in high school to gain experience that they can use on their college admission applications. This can include things like a part-time job, volunteering in the community, joining a sports team, tutoring other students or starting a side hustle, to name a few. Their guidance counselor can help them figure out something ideal that won’t interfere with their schoolwork. Not only will gaining this type of experience look good on a college application, but it might help your student discover something they’re passionate about. Plus, they’ll make connections and begin building their professional network with the people they’re bound to meet when they engage in one of these activities.

What advice can you share about career and job choices?

Your student’s guidance counselor can help them narrow down the career field they might want to get into. From there, a counselor can point your student toward majors that will put them on the path to that career field. If your student doesn’t know what they want to do for a career (and that’s totally fine), their counselor can help them connect their interests, passions and skills to subject areas in college that they might want to explore to help figure it all out.

What college scholarships and fee waivers are available?

There are so many scholarships for so many different things out there that it might be hard for your student to find all the available opportunities on their own. But their guidance counselor can help. They know of a lot of resources for finding scholarships that they can share with your student. They may also be aware of fee waivers your student could be eligible for, such as a school’s application fee or enrollment deposit.

Are you willing to give me a letter of recommendation?

Some colleges ask for letters of recommendation as part of their application for admission. Your student’s letters of recommendation should be from people who know them pretty well in either an education setting (e.g., a teacher or coach), a professional setting (e.g., their boss at their after-school job) or a community setting (e.g., their pastor or scout leader). This person should be able to articulate in their letter why your student would be a good fit for that college and what attributes they possess that will help them be successful there. If your student thinks their guidance counselor knows them well enough to give them a glowing recommendation, they shouldn’t be shy about asking.