Help Your Students Prepare for College Early

Last updated: Aug 13, 2018

When it comes to getting students thinking about college, counselors know that “better late than never” should be said with a deep sigh. Counselors know it takes time to build the academic record and log the life experiences that make the college admissions process easier and college years as productive as possible. As a college counseling pro, you know that it’s critical to help your students prepare for college early.

College counselor working with a high school student

Put College Options on Youngsters’ Radar Early

If your school has a strategy for reaching students as early as elementary school to share possibilities and plans for a postsecondary education, all you have to worry about is marshaling resources and time to get the job done. That’s a tall order, but your time and resources will be well spent. A college counselors’ job gets easier when kids hit their high school campuses with an understanding of the college track, especially if the families also are engaged and aware.

If your school has no strategy or tools to make the early push easier, there are planning resources available. The National Association for College Admission Counseling has inked a how-to on guidance for students in the later years of middle school. Here’s an abridged version:

  • Inspire them to make college a path to their dreams.
  • Explain the importance of assessing their interests, strengths, and academic habits.
  • Give them a basic understanding of college options and ways to finance college.
  • Provide a template for a college preparatory curriculum that will get them to and through high school.
  • Discuss the importance of a personal profile and support network that can help them achieve their college goals.

Get the College Conversation Started Early in High School

National Association for College Admission Counseling data show that a good performance in college preparatory classes is the best way to win over a college admissions office. That’s something your freshmen need to know, and it’s information you can pass on while advising them that they must use all four years of high school to position themselves for college.

College counselor working with a high school student about how to prepare for college

Let Kids Know What You Can Do for Them

You know your duties in shaping your students’ college hunt, but they probably won’t unless you tell them. Let them know you are here to:

  • Help them pick the right courses.
  • Keep a record of classes and grades.
  • Track graduation requirements.
  • Recommend college admissions tests and provide relevant information.
  • Point them to colleges suited to their abilities and goals, identifying safety, probable, and reach schools.
  • Write letters of recommendation.
  • Give them necessary information on financial aid, awards, and scholarships.

Counselors don’t come with an owner’s manual you can share, but you can offer tips on how to best use a counselor’s skills. You can even hand out lists of questions they should ask you.

You Have to Know Them to Help Them

Helping them get to know you will facilitate what you absolutely must do to help them. You must get to know them, too. Their likes and dislikes. Their strengths and weaknesses. Even how their home life will affect their high school performance and their college and career dreams. Building that relationship is no small task.

USF can help a bit with getting to know your kids. We have compiled a questionnaire you can hand out to rising high school freshmen or hand them when they first enter your office as freshmen.

Download your free questionnaire to help your students here: 

Student Questionnaire for High School Students and Counselors

That’s not the only help counselors can get from USF.

USF also has a Counselor Toolkit, a recruiter information page, and this Admit-A-Bull Official Admissions Blog site featuring the College Counselors’ Corner.

Our USF admissions advisors are happy to answer your questions about the USF admissions process, so contact us online or by phone at 813-974-3350.

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