beginning of content:

Help your students take the next step in their education

During their four years of high school, students have many teachers, coaches and role models. However, as a school counselor, you are the one person who sees the entire picture of a student's high school career and can bring all the information together.

Some of the things you can do to give students the best chance of being accepted by the college of their choice include:

  • Help to plan a challenging course schedule.
  • Keep records of classes and grades.
  • Track graduation requirements.
  • Suggest which college admission tests to take and when to take them.
  • Connect students to information on various colleges, majors and careers. 
  • Recommend colleges to match academic profiles and career goals.
  • Advise on "safety," "probable" and "reach" colleges.
  • Make sure transcripts are sent to colleges.
  • Write letters of recommendation.
  • Explain how aid awards and financial aid work, and connect students to local scholarship opportunities.

As a counselor, your encouragement plays a critical role in helping students prepare for college. Your students rely on you to ensure that they are prepared for the college admission process. Your goal is to convince your students that college is within their grasp.

Course selection

College admission requirements are typically more stringent than high school graduation requirements. They often require a higher level of demonstrated competence in mathematics and science, and may even require a minimum number of years of foreign-language study. Make sure that all your students have the opportunity to participate in a college-prep academic program. Share with them what courses colleges expect to see on their transcripts.

In addition to course topics, it is important that you encourage all students to take the most rigorous and challenging courses suitable for their academic level. The Advanced Placement Program® (AP®)  provides willing and academically prepared high school students with the opportunity to study and learn at the college level. Successfully completing these courses — and doing well on the exams — demonstrates to colleges that students are capable of success at the college level.

Standardized tests

A strong performance on standardized tests also helps students convince colleges that they are ready for the challenge. Encourage your students to take the PSAT/NMSQT®. This experience gives them the chance to practice for important college admission tests such as the SAT®. It also links them to practice resources on Khan Academy, AP coursework, and college planning resources.


Colleges also expect students to have interests outside of academics. Sports and other extracurricular activities show admission officers that students are well-rounded and can contribute to life on campus. Volunteering or working part-time also indicates a sense of duty and commitment, further proof that students are ready for the responsibilities college entails.