Your son or
daughter is about to be one of the 15 million students going off to
college this year. Your child has spent months planning for this,
survived endless preparation for the SATs, and has likely sorted
through piles of colorful brochures from colleges and been bombarded
by internet advertising for all of the above.
Through four years of high school, your child will have had many
teachers, taken a variety of tests and participated in numerous
activities. The one person who sees the entire picture of your
child's high school career and who can bring all the information
together, aside from you, is your child's guidance counselor.
The counselor helps him or her plan a challenging course schedule
and advises on how to achieve his or her goals. The counselor has
information on which tests your child should take, which colleges
are a good fit, and how he or she can get on the right track for an
Many students have the same counselor throughout high school. Some
counselors advise hundreds of students, while others advise far
smaller numbers. Some students seek out their counselors, while
others wait to be called in. Whichever scenario applies to your
child, remember that he or she must take the initiative with their
educational plans and be proactive in pursuing the counselor.
College applications require a counselor’s recommendation, so it is
important that each student let the counselor know his or her goals,
strengths, and plans well before senior year. Many guidance offices
send home a parent “brag sheet” at the end of junior year to help
complete the student’s personal profile. Because colleges use
various criteria to determine their incoming student body, and their
final decisions are based on composite pictures, you want to make
sure your child has a good relationship with the counselor: that
recommendation is important.
Get your child involved:
Once you’re thinking that your child’s future includes college,
you can help him/her believe it too. Get a big envelope or
folder in which to keep all records and a list of
Talk to their teachers:
Make a point of meeting with teachers every year, as they are
partners in helping your child succeed. Let them know your
child’s concerns, if your child hasn’t already.
Be sure the core curriculum is covered:
Your child should have no fewer than five solid academic classes
Let your child pursue his/her passions through electives and
Colleges look for a well-rounded high school experience, but they
also look for special talents. Encourage your child to
pursue his/her interests in art, music, journalism, computer
programming, business, performing arts or whatever else. Let
this elective choice be the sixth credit each year.
Help your child show what he knows:
Many colleges require SAT Subject Tests for admission or
placement; your child can choose from over twenty of them.
The Writing Test is included with the Reasoning Test
(formerly known as the SAT I). Check with the colleges you
are selecting to find out their additional
requirements. Also check for colleges that have made these