The value of working with your college counselor cannot be overstated. Some students attend schools, both private and public, that have counselors who are over-burdened with too many students and do not have the time they would like to spend with students and families. In this case, it is wise to ask an independent college counselor to form a partnership with your school counselor to attain the best outcome.
Before visiting with the college counselor(s), it is a very good idea to think about some things that will help in the process.
It is also important to determine your admission strengths. You can do this by making a list of core classes you have taken including AP and Honors classes. Know your GPA and if you need to improve your standardized test scores. Make a list of your personal attributes like perseverance, hard work and time management skills. Additionally, make a list of your work experience and extra-curricular activities that may be relevant such as community service.
You are now ready to meet with your college counselor(s) based upon what you have learned about yourself. Together, you will be looking for a good match. I recommend choosing 10 colleges or universities to explore. You will have the opportunity to do this early by visiting the school websites, attending college fairs and/or taking a college tour. Word of mouth is another important resources – when possible, speak to other students about their experiences in the admission process and at the schools they chose.
Make a list of the qualities you have discovered at each of these colleges or universities and discuss your thoughts with your counselor(s). Keep these things in mind when thinking about school choices and how important these qualities to you.