Throughout the college admission process, it’s important to understand that students are not going about their search on their own. While the levels of support will vary, it is our hope that students have some form of support surrounding them. A guardian, or multiple, is the typical first level of guidance. From there, most students have access to a school counselor within their high school. In some cases, high schools offer two levels of support with students having a school counselor to address academic and emotional business along with a college counselor who specifically focuses on the college or career search process. In other cases, students may receive college-focused support from community organizations or other trusted mentors.
But let’s not forget the value of a college admission counselor.
There are two primary reasons to connect and form a relationship with the college admission counselors at each college of interest.
First, they serve as an ally. College Admission Counselors are admission counselors, not deny counselors or gate keepers of admission. Our primary goal is to work with students (and families) to help them find the fit (or lack of fit) in our institution. The college admission process is a two-way relationship; students cannot thrive without suitable colleges, but colleges cannot thrive without suitable students. It’s a symbiotic relationship. For this reason, college admission counselors want to learn about you and support you as best they can. Be honest and open about your needs, goals, and concerns.
Your college admission counselor, in most cases, will be the first to review your application. I always tell my students that I am their agent. I advocate for them when it comes to the final admission decision. If I do not know a student’s unique story, if I am not aware of the life experiences that have shaped them into their current self, I am not able to explain to the admission committee why the student is a good fit for my college beyond the reality of their high school transcript (and test scores) and the contents of their essay. So share openly and address any concerns you have about the process or offerings of a school. If you don’t think your application tells your complete story, find a way to portray who you are. Sometimes an interview is a good idea, but emails and phone calls are beneficial too.
Ensure that your college admission counselor knows who you are. Don’t allow us to group you into a category of another average student. We want to make the best admission decision for you.
In addition to being your ally, college admission counselors are the experts on the college they represent. This does not mean they hold the answer to every single question. But these counselors know the staff and faculty on their campus who can offer greater insight and support. So ask them any and all of your questions … that includes you, Gramps! No matter your relationship to the applying student, all stakeholders in the college search should ensure their concerns are heard and responded to.
As admission counselors learn more about each applicant, they can ensure that students have the resources they need to succeed on their campus. They can recommend the exploration of different academic programs and campus offices on an individual basis, but only if the student is willing to forge a relationship and communicate throughout the process.
Invest in your college admission counselors; check in with them periodically and remind them of your name and unique perspective. In return, your college admission counselor will be able to invest in you and do what they can to guide you to a bright and transformative future on the right college campus.
–Brad Simon, Assistant Director