Guide to Saving for College
When you are preparing to go to college, you should always make use of any resources available to you. In high school, you can take advantage of a wide array of opportunities to prepare for college. You can plan your courses based on college requirements, start saving money for tuition, and even research potential majors. But no resource is as helpful, even irreplaceable, as your high school counselors, who are the experts in presenting yourself as the most marketable college candidate you can be.
High school counselors can help you prepare for college in all the right ways. You can keep your academic record impressive, collect extracurricular activities to make yourself stand out, and study for standardized admissions tests, but unless you consult someone who's aware of all parts of the application process, you might miss something important that could cost you your college dreams.
Your counselors have information on hand for all local colleges, and can gain access to applications and information for any other college you may want to attend. Counselors can also familiarize you with complex financial aid information and help you plan your course schedule to meet the requirements of your chosen college.
High school counselors can even discuss life issues to help you prepare for your independent existence, or help you pick a major or career path. There is no part of your journey to college that a high school counselor cannot help you master.
Your counselors can best tailor advice to meet your needs if you provide honest information about who you are. Visit your counselors regularly and keep them up to date on your life and interests. Whenever you have a college question that you can't readily answer, you should consult your counselors.
Be friendly but respectful, and let your counselors know you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. Most counselors deal with many students each day, year after year, and whatever you can do to make yourself stand out in a positive way can motivate counselors to give you extra assistance. Your relationships with your counselors should be treated as the kind of personal network-building that will help you succeed in college and your professional career.
Make it clear that you follow through on the advice you're given, and you'll be rewarded with whatever benefits could come to you from the counselors using their college contacts to smooth your way at application time. For example, your college applications will require personal references, and a counselor will be able to select the most impressive people of your acquaintance to lend you a hand by supplying a reference.
Schedule meetings with your counselors before any major deadlines related to college. For instance, plan to review your options with your counselors before you select the colleges to which you wish to submit applications. Your counselors can review your completed applications before you send them in.
Ask your counselors to go over procedures for filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) correctly. When it's time to apply for scholarships, visit your counselors for expert tips. And of course your counselors can help you prepare a list of those deadlines, so you run no risk of skipping a critical step.
Your counseling time is limited, so come prepared! Before you have your first counseling appointment, write a worksheet of your immediate concerns at school followed by your understanding of what you'll need to do to improve your chances at college admission. Then ask your counselor which group of points he or she would like to cover in that initial assessment.
Counselors often answer the same elementary questions repeatedly. If you appear to have done your homework on issues specifically for the appointment, your counselor will realize you're quite serious about your college career, and treat you accordingly. Do not make the common mistake of assuming nothing you do in high school other than academic work can make a difference in your future.
It is never too early to practice your future professionalism, and your counseling appointments are the perfect place to begin that personal improvement. Tell the counselor you're trying to achieve a professional effect in your presentation, and listen to the feedback you receive. Your counselor will appreciate it that you've put in the effort to think of your questions ahead of time, and note that you've already learned not only the value of your own time but other people's time as well.
Even though high school counselors meet with many students throughout the school year, not nearly enough students make use of their services. Make sure you take advantage of this important free benefit while it's available to you. Your counselors can't help you unless you schedule an appointment to talk about your college plans. Even if you have no idea what you're going to do, a counselor can help you with that as well.
A counseling appointment should be a stress-free experience, so don't worry: no counselor is going to judge you and your decisions. Your counselors' only goal is to help you find the right path toward college from this moment on. Any time spent in a counselor's office will be well worth it once you leave with confidence, sure of how to approach your future goals.