As a high school counselor, getting your students ready for college is one of the most important jobs you have. But there’s a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it – the school year can slip by before you know it.
From the moment a student first steps into your office, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to get them ready for that next big step. But where do you even start? When there are a million things to do, what do you prioritize?
Here are three simple steps you can take to make sure your students are college-ready:
Create a Challenging Course Schedule
Some college-minded students believe they should take “easy” courses in high school to get the best possible GPA for their college applications. Don’t let your students make this mistake! While it might seem tempting in the short term, it will only hurt them in the long term.
There is more to college prep than maximizing GPA. Remember, you aren’t just trying to get students admitted to college – you’re trying to make sure that they’re fully prepared to succeed once they get there.
As the school counselor, you can help create a course schedule for your students that challenges them; make sure they’re getting a chance to develop the core skills they’ll need to succeed in post-secondary.
Prepare Them for Standardized Tests
Few words conjure up as much dread in a student as the words “standardized test.” And when you think about it from their perspective, it’s easy to see why – a few hours in a room with a Scantron can decide their fate.
Don’t let a standardized test stand between your students and their college dreams. As their school counselor, you are responsible for preparing your students to take these tests. Make sure there are resources available for test prep. Encourage students to take a practice test. Review test-taking strategies with your students, and make sure they understand how the tests work.
When you make sure students are ready for standardized tests, you minimize anxiety and maximize results.
Today’s colleges want to see more than just top grades – they want to know what else students bring to the table. High GPAs are a dime a dozen. Colleges need to see what makes your students stand out, which brings us to extracurriculars.
Extracurriculars are anything but extras. They’re essential. Taking part in extracurriculars can help students explore their passions while also building important skills. And they show college admissions officers that your students are likely to get involved in student life on campus and become engaged members of their college communities.
Extracurriculars can also be an important part of securing scholarships. Participating in anything from debate to the school musical can open up new scholarship opportunities; with the right scholarship management software, you’ll be able to find scholarships that match up with your students’ passions.
Your students’ experiences with extracurricular activities can also provide material for scholarship and college admissions essays – the people reviewing these applications can always tell when a student’s real passions shine through.
There is a lot that goes into getting students ready for college. You have to think about GPAs, SATs, scholarships, funding, acceptance rates, application packages, early admissions, interviews, skill-building, and so much more.
Focus on the big things. Create a class schedule that challenges your students and helps them build the skills they’ll need in college classrooms. Focus on preparations for standardized tests, and help students achieve their best scores. And finally, help your students stand out from the crowd by participating in extracurricular activities they feel passionate about.
Once you’ve nailed these three steps, the only challenge left will be helping your students sort through acceptance letters.