The initial conversations between counselor and student focus on the factors that go into selecting a college, including size and geographic location, academic and extracurricular opportunities, affordability, and selectivity—the relative difficulty of gaining admission. Throughout these discussions, the counselor carefully reviews the student’s academic record and extracurricular accomplishments and the proposed course selection for senior year. Before the end of junior year, every student who plans to apply to college in the fall is provided a list of suggested colleges tailored to the student’s particular interests and preferences. Informed by the director’s extensive knowledge of colleges and universities throughout the U.S., developed over 20 years of working with students and families, the list includes a judicious mix of schools that have the greatest potential to meet the student’s needs and provide a challenging and enriching educational experience.
Senior year, college applications take center stage, and meetings between the student and counselor are more frequent. Every part of the application process is covered, including
- Refining the list of colleges the student will apply to, including an appropriate number of reaches, targets, and safeties;
- Seeking recommendations from teachers;
- Developing and polishing the personal essay and any supplementary essays required by individual institutions;
- Choosing the right admissions plan (e.g., early decision, early action, regular, or rolling admission) for each school and applying by the appropriate deadline;
- Taking or retaking standardized tests and submitting scores, if required;
- Applying for financial aid to meet college expenses;
- Reviewing offers of admission and financial aid, and making the final choice.
This is an exciting and often stressful time in a senior’s life. Besides writing a detailed recommendation for every senior, the counselor offers a listening ear and a reassuring presence to keep students moving forward and help them put the inevitable challenges and disappointments in perspective. When it comes time for seniors to make their final college choices, the counselor plays a key role in helping students and parents assess their options, including a careful review of financial aid and merit scholarship offers.