High school counselors fill many roles: they help students process their disputes and emotions, they manage the academic pathways of students through high school and beyond, and they fix myriad problems as they arise. Schools ask a great deal from high school counselors, and they perform their tasks admirably.
Unfortunately, some counselors must devote so much time and energy to the daily struggles of high school life that they don’t have the resources left to help students prepare for the college admissions process. Like any challenge, this too can be overcome with the right resources, strategy, and planning. In this article, we’ll examine why these challenges exist, and what resources high school counselors can turn to for additional help.
How Resource Disparity Impacts Students
Not all high schools are created equal. As we explored in a previous article, which high school a student attends greatly impacts where they end up going to college. This is due, in large part, to an uneven distribution of resources between high schools, including counselors.
This disparity in counseling can be seen in two forms. The first is that high schools with more resources will often have a dedicated counselor to advise students on the college admissions process. Having a person or team with college admissions as their full-time job empowers them to build rapport with admissions officers, learn the ins and outs of college admissions, and devote their time and energy to helping students apply to colleges. While they are not inherently necessary, they are able to focus their whole attention on the college admissions process, and in so doing greatly aid their students’ success.
To make things worse, these disadvantages are compounded at under-privileged and under-funded high schools. In these settings counselors generally, focus on the goal of graduation for all students, and have less time and resources to help students plan what they will do after graduation. Students who don’t make waves are often left to slip through the cracks in these schools.
This is not the fault of the high school counselors in question, who are doing their best with the resources they have. Their struggles come through no fault of their own, and many go to great lengths to help their students succeed in spite of the challenges they face. That said, many students still struggle to succeed in the college admissions process, and counselors, in turn, struggle to help them.
College Admission Resources for Counselors
Fortunately, there are resources out there to help high school counselors help their students, in the realm of college admissions at least (which is the area we focus on too, so we’re going to talk about that).
The major challenges in using these resources are twofold. First, counselors don’t know which resources they can trust, and second, they don’t have the time or energy to review every possible resource before distributing them to students. High school counselors don’t want to steer their students awry, and bad information can be far more detrimental than no information at all. Therefore, we’ll go through some sources of information on the college admissions process now, and talk about what we’ve found most useful, and what we know to be trustworthy.
Creators of both the Common App and the SAT, Collegeboard is intrinsically linked to the college application process. They have their own collection of resources for teachers and counselors, covering everything from finding colleges that fit, to the application process as a whole, to finding and applying for financial aid.
While Collegeboard is a for-profit company, they still produce myriad free guides and resources to help students and counselors alike, and we recommend you take advantage of them.
Colleges themselves put out a great deal of material to entice students to apply. While we covered how to glean useful information from this deluge in a previous article, it is relevant here as well. While the information put out by colleges is often of less use for counselors than for their students, students do frequently need guidance in learning about colleges.
There are a number of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping students get into college. Notable among these are Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). These organizations are dedicated to helping low-income and other underprivileged students with their college applications. Many of them have resources to help both students and counselors with the application process.
Notable in the Houston area is Breakthrough Houston, and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling has a directory of regional CBOs in cities across the country, so you can find help wherever you are.
There are a great many companies that provide college counseling services (like us!) Not all of these companies are created equal either, and some are far more helpful, and more knowledgeable than others.
Many of these companies put out free information, including guides to every aspect of the admissions process (we have ours here). Some high school counselors are hesitant to use materials from a paid consultant, however, this information can be a great resource. The trick is making sure the companies you are getting the resources from are trustworthy, and that the information they put out is valuable.
In addition, many of these companies will take on pro-bono students. While this will not be an option for every student, it is a good resource to keep in mind, as individualized help with a college application can be hard to come by.
We ask a lot of our high school counselors, and they often perform admirably in spite of their limited resources. We hope to help them in this effort and hope that the resources we’ve created will be a valuable addition to their arsenal. While we recognize our own limitations, we want to help all students achieve academic success.
If you are a high school counselor and want to know more about the resources we can offer, or our pro-bono program, please set up a consultation with us. We are always happy to hear from you and want nothing more than to help you help your students.