How to Best Utilize Your Guidance Counselor

January 3, 2017
Jennifer Tran-Kiem

Learn how to best utilize your guidance counselor.

A guidance counselor can maximize your success in high school and college.

Talking to your guidance counselor can seem unappealing at first. After all, you’ll be confiding in a complete stranger about your academic goals and concerns. Despite your reservations, you’ll quickly discover how useful a guidance counselor can be. From more immediate concerns (selecting classes and SAT prep) to long term goals (applying for college and selecting a major), a guidance counselor can be a key factor in your success.

Here are a few ways to best utilize your guidance counselor to help you maximize your success in high school and college:

What your counselor can do for you

Many students assume guidance counselors are only good for the occasional class scheduling question. But it’s important to realize that your guidance counselors can benefit you in so many other ways throughout your high school experience. For one, your guidance counselors can vouch for you. While you strive to be the best person and student you can be, they are alongside you. In addition to organizing your class schedule, they can help you manage family and/or school stresses, shape your aspirations, find fitting extracurricular activities, and ease you into the college process.

What you can do for your guidance counselor

While your guidance counselor’s job is to support you, establishing a productive relationship works both ways. To that end, there are a few ways you can help make their job easier. For example, they need to get to know you and understand your passions, strengths, weaknesses, opinions, and desires. One of the guidance counselor’s goals is to help you figure out how you can be the best candidate for the colleges you apply for. No matter how far along you are in your high school experience, your guidance counselor’s door is always open to you.

How often to see your guidance counselor

The more consistently you interact with your guidance counselor, the better they will be able to provide quality guidance. Since they see many different students, it’s best to see them often enough that they will recognize your face before you remind them of your name. They appreciate you following up with pros and cons of the current classes you’re in, along with any comments or experiences to share about your volunteering or extracurricular activities. Even if you have no new updates, it’d be nice to pop into their office for a quick hello before you go to lunch or wish them a good weekend at the end of the week.

Questions to keep in mind

In addition to your specific goals, a guidance counselor can simply help you assess your progress along the way. Your winter break and weekends would be a great time to sit down with yourself or with family/friends and reflect on your progress as a high school student. Are you satisfied with your volunteer experience? What about research, internship, or travel experience? Do you need to improve on studying habits? Do you have a good relationship with some teachers for future recommendation letters? Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, so ask away!

Keep checking back for big savings on test prep for college throughout the New Year.


Jennifer Tran-Kiem Jennifer is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.S. in Physiology & Neurobiology and a minor in Spanish business. When she's not working, she enjoys exercising, hanging out with family and friends, reading, and impromptu road trips.



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