3 Scenarios When College Counselors Are Helpful

Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

As new COVID-safety policies roll out and the future remains uncertain, standard curriculum wavers. General information provided to high schoolers facing college admissions just doesn’t cut it anymore. Getting independent advice for your child in college admissions seems like a must. Often, the most helpful way to support your child is working with experts: college counselors.

In many ways, it is an arms race to help children prepare as much as possible for one decisive moment. That moment of receiving the long-awaited decision letter: accepted, rejected, or waitlisted. In fact, many parents start coaching their students in 8th or 9th grade with new activities, clubs,  SAT boot camps, and competitions. College counselors, or college admissions counselors, are useful in guiding students and parents in innumerable ways.

Today, we’ll review three common scenarios we see at Empowerly when counseling makes the biggest impact:

  • working with parents and students to be open-minded;
  • providing insight to help students to reflect deeply on their future path;
  • and offering a safe and trusting space to work on strengths and weaknesses alike.

Scenario 1: Being open-minded

When students and parents are open to private counselors sharing their thoughts, you will see a difference. Whether advice falls on obscure schools, new classes, or new activities, the relationship proves most fruitful when listening happens.

Parents and students can and should research colleges, academics, and extracurricular activities and bring those ideas to the table. An experienced counselor will be able to tell which ideas will have merit in the process and which carry no weight. Your counselor will also be able to suggest options that aren’t yet on your radar, to expand your horizons.

In our experience, we usually use 50% of new activities, 40% of school list choices, and 80% of school recommendations. Although this is variable, an open mind allows this to work. You can see that working with a college counselor can add significant value to your knowledge base and collaboration skills.

Scenario 2: Willing to reflect deeply

Juniors and seniors in high school balance many things at once–taking AP or IB classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and managing expectations of character growth and maturity.  In the college admissions process, reflecting on experiences and writing about them emerges as very important. Often, this quality distinguishes between good and great essays.

We have an adaptable set of activities that helps students practice this reflection. With such busy lives, it is often difficult to sit and think deeply about why we did certain activities, or how we failed once, but ultimately learned to overcome.

Those students that excel the most with private college counselors are the ones that are willing to reflect deeply and explore their thoughts. It is a brave endeavor, and one that should be embraced. The admissions process, approached in this way, encourages personal responsibility and growth.

Scenario 3: Trusting of the counselor

When students and parents can trust the guidance of the counselor, and personalities match between student and counselor, the results are amazing. Both parties get into a rhythm of asking and answering questions, and when essay time hits, the strength of this teamwork enables the student to work together collaboratively and productively.

In these cases, long-term private college counselor relationships can be the most rewarding. Often, however, we meet with seniors in October and November, and we are able to develop this trusting relationship within a week. Finding common ground and establishing a safe environment to try new ideas is key. This is a mixture of Empowerly’s dedication to staying current combined with our counselors’ experience in the process.

In conclusion

College admissions is a difficult and rewarding journey. Today, we reviewed three scenarios where having an independent counselor for admissions will provide a strong diving-off point for important work that makes a college application truly outstanding. Our data proves that the right mentality of both students and parents when initiating a counseling relationship leads to great results. Once students find a rhythm working with counselors, new activities, competitions, and schools come to light. Eventually, it often results in admission to a better school than anyone thought possible. 

Need advice on how to choose a college counselor? Click below! We’re here to help you work towards your goals with a tangible strategy and time-tested expert advice.

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