School counselors are real life superheroes. You may find yourself playing referee, college advisor, sounding board, and even disciplinarian and therapist—all before lunch. With so many responsibilities at hand, your job really boils down to a single objective: mastering the fine art of multitasking. Counselors who are juggling multiple responsibilities for hundreds of students may not be able to devote much time to one-on-one college planning. But there are several ways in which you can maximize the time you do have with each student by giving them the tools they need to explore and apply to colleges on their own.
1. Get your students online
Compile a list of your favorite college planning websites that your students can use to begin their college and scholarship searches. Consider printing out your list and giving it to your juniors and seniors at the beginning of the school year. Some useful sites include FAFSA, The Common Application, and of course, CollegeXpress. You might also list the websites of the colleges and universities that students from your school most often attend, including direct links to their application and financial aid pages.
2. Keep a good line of communication
While you may not have loads of time to spend with each of your students individually, you can communicate via email to answer questions, check in on their progress, and even send out reminders about upcoming deadlines. You could even consider setting up a social media account on Twitter, Instagram, or even TikTok that students can follow and use it to post things like scholarships you've come across, test-taking tips, SAT vocabulary definitions, or college-related news and advice.
3. Encourage social networking
Social networking can be an excellent tool in the college admission process. Most colleges and universities have Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, allowing prospective students to connect with them and learn more about what they have to offer. Your juniors can use these sites to explore the schools they're interested in, and your seniors can use them to interact with current students at the schools they’re applying to and to learn about campus events once they've been accepted.
4. Offer group sessions
If your schedule permits, consider offering group counseling sessions. Determine the various categories your college-bound students fall into—such as private or public school applicants, community college applicants, and students in the top 10%—and then offer a few question-and-answer sessions specifically geared toward each group. Students in similar situations will have similar questions for you, so making yourself available to several of them at once will help you juggle many students needs while still giving them the individualized attention they need.
In your multifaceted role as a high school counselor, the time you can devote to college planning may be limited. And while there's no book, website, or social media platform that could ever take your place, these time-saving suggestions, along with a little hard work and ingenuity, will help put you and your students on track for success.
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