This week I read a post on the US News and World Report blog. There’s some great advice about how students can make the most of the time they get to spend talking with their school counselors about their college search and applications. The Boy Scout motto: BE PREPARED comes to mind.
The goal of every school counselor I know is to help every student as much as they can. With an average student load of 475 to 1, according the the National Center for Educational Statistics, a research study conducted by a University of California professor estimates that on average counselors have 38 minutes per student per year to advise on college related matters.
I suspect this causes frustrations for parents, students and for the counselors themselves. The president of NACAC, Mr. Miller provides specific advice on how students can make the most of those precious minutes. He suggests that students talk to their counselors about their own specific personal characteristics and preferences and let the counselor help them narrow down their list. Absolutely. There’s not just one right college for each student. There are a set of colleges where a student would likely thrive and succeed. Also, rather than picking a college and then trying to contort oneself into fitting into the mold, it’s much better to find the college that fits you naturally.
We’ve found that students often need help identifying their preferences and specific personal characteristics that then can be matched to an appropriate set of colleges. Teens aren’t often knowledgeable about topics like their learning styles. They might be able to articulate why they like a certain teacher or course and then with assistance, they can draw some conclusions about themselves and then what colleges might work for someone with their strengths. Also, teens aren’t often too knowledgeable about the world of colleges. They maybe know something about a few colleges near their homes, and of course, probably know now that Bulter University is in Indianapolis, but getting to the nitty-gritty of college characteristics takes time and exploration.
Considering the 457/38 figures, the US News blogger suggests that students and their families could benefit from some outside help. Of course, we agree. It’s important for families to vet private counselors their considering hiring to work with their children. We suggest the IECA guidelines as questions to ask prospective private counselors.