While most high school counselors do a great job of recognizing the individual needs of students, you should keep in mind that counselors are sometimes highly outnumbered by students. At some schools, the ratio of school counselors to students is 1:2000+. Not only do counselors work with students on graduation requirements and college planning, but they also help students with problems, such as unplanned pregnancies, suicide prevention, and drug dependency. Because high school counselors have hundreds of students under their care and are faced with increased responsibilities, it is no wonder that your child may not be getting the attention needed from his counselor when it comes to college preparation. Here is what you should do when your child's school counselor isn't fully involved in the college planning process.
Be proactive. As a parent, you need to become knowledgeable about higher education options for your child. Work together with your teen and research information about different colleges, majors, extracurricular activities, scholarships, and student loans. Check to see if your child's school has a separate college and career planning office or consider visiting a college planning office in your community.
Schedule a conference. If you want to meet one-on-one with your child's counselor, call the counseling office and schedule an appointment. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your child's specific college concerns. This will also give the school counselor an opportunity to get to know you and your child better. Try to provide the counselor with a list of your child's extracurricular activities and jobs. The more the school counselor knows about your child, the more he can help with college preparation.
Attend workshops and seminars. School counselors often organize workshops and seminars to discuss subjects such as college admissions and financial aid. Use this opportunity to get as much info about the college planning process as possible. Many of your questions will be answered at these workshops and seminars. Contact your child's counseling office to find out when these meetings will occur.
Keep the counselor informed. Try to alert your child's counselor to at-home situations that could affect or has affected your teen's school performance. If your child is struggling with parental divorce, upset about a chronically ill family member, or suffering from some other problem that the counselor may not be aware of, try to let the counselor know. He may be able to present your child's transcript or write a letter of recommendation to target colleges in a way that reflects the problems and lets the colleges know why your child is going through an academic slump.
Get your child involved. Your child should be actively involved in researching information about the college planning process as well. Make sure your teen attends counseling conferences and college planning workshops and seminars with you. If you are doing all the work for your child, then you should probably have a discussion with him about how he needs to be involved in the process since it is his future.
In a perfect world, the ratio of school counselors to students would be more equal. Since we don't live in a perfect world, it would be beneficial for your child if you became involved in the college planning process since your child's counselor may not be able to focus on your teen's specific needs as much as you would like. Initiate interaction with your child's counselor to let him know that you and your child are motivated to learn more about the process and would like assistance along the way.