3 Tips for Working with Your School Counseling Office

Susan Scully-Hill, director of the school counseling graduate program at Assumption University, provides some tips for effectively utilizing your child’s school counseling office.

October 18, 2021

Susan Scully-HillAs the director of the school counseling program at Assumption University, I’d like to provide you with some tips for utilizing the school counseling office at your child’s school. School counselors can be the most valuable resource as you and your child navigate searching for colleges. They are experienced in the college application process and are skilled at helping students develop a list of colleges that are the "right-fit" for them, based on their interests and goals.

Develop a Good Relationship with the School Counselor/College Advisor

Your child will want to become acquainted with his/her school counselor early in the year. Schools may still be altering their approach with learning models based on protocols related to COVID-19 and its variants. However, your child should research how best to meet with his/her counselor - either in person or virtually. Once a meeting has been scheduled, hold a discussion with your child and develop a list of topics for them to discuss. Some potential topics to discuss might include:

  • Results of on-line searches
  • Virtual and in-person events colleges are hosting to learn more about each institution
  • Type/range of academic programs/majors your child is interested in pursuing
  • Preference as to distance from home; campus size; urban, suburban, or rural location
  • The current extracurricular activities and potential involvement in these activities at the college
  • Other criteria of personal importance

This will enable your child to be prepared to meet with his/her counselor and will allow the counselor to recommend appropriate colleges for your child to explore and learn more about. You and your child can then discuss which colleges to apply to.

Encourage Your Child to Begin the Application Process Early

Your child will need letters of recommendation to accompany his/her college applications. Your child should make these requests of teachers and school counselor as early in the school year as possible since they are inundated with recommendation requests. Providing adequate time to write a strong letter benefits your child tremendously. It is also helpful to teachers and school counselors if your child provides a basic resume or outline of his/her activities (volunteer, extracurricular), achievements, and interests. Many schools have a form for students to complete that addresses this information but, if not, it is not too early for your child to develop a basic resume. 

Also, have your child find out if a release form, signed by you, is required to allow the school to send transcripts to colleges. This will make requests from college admissions representatives easier for the school counselor to fulfill.

Take Advantage of the College Planning Events the School Counseling Office Hosts

High schools offer opportunities for college/university admission representatives to meet with students. These meetings may be in-person or virtual and will provide important information on a variety of topics such as navigating the college admissions process, accessing financial aid, writing a strong essay, and interviewing tips. School counselors are responsible for a variety of student concerns and are only able to dedicate a portion of their time to the college counseling process. However, they host college planning meetings, sessions, and workshops for parents and care-givers in an effort to provide important information. Plan on attending these events with your child. 

Request that your child finds out from the school counseling office what events are planned and when they are being held.  Attend these sessions and bring a list of questions. Questions or concerns that are more individual to your situation are best discussed in a private meeting with the school counselor. 

Assist your child in researching college fair opportunities offered in the community and through the school. The NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) and other related organizations hold college fairs across the country and are great resources if your child is considering leaving the area to attend college. These events provide wonderful opportunities to learn about different types of colleges and universities. If traveling to these events in person is not convenient, look for virtual events as these have become much more commonplace and offer opportunities for learning as well. 

I hope that these tips will be helpful to you as you embark upon this exciting time in the life of your child. I hope that you will check out our many in-person visit opportunities, including our fall 2021 Open House on October 23 or October 24, as well as our virtual visit opportunities. Learn more at www.assumption.edu/visit.

Susan M. Scully-Hill, Ph.D.
Director-School Counseling Programs
Assumption University