Former Writer and Senior Editor
You might consider incorporating some of the tasks of a college advisor into your role as a high school or independent counselor. You may not be able to help your students select their courses or devise a specific degree plan, but putting together even a basic map of what it takes to graduate on time could pay huge dividends for them in the future, both academically and financially. Get started by going over a few essential points:
- Discuss graduation requirements. Make sure your students understand what's generally required in order to earn a four-year degree and how many credits they should aim to take each semester in order to finish on time.
- Help them home in on a major. Choosing a major is important, and while many students do end up switching majors, doing so could tack on an additional year or more of course work and rack up thousands of dollars in extra tuition. Discuss their interests and help them find the right path.
- Walk through their school’s registration system. Stress the importance of registering as early as possible to ensure they have a seat in the courses they need to take.
- Develop time management skills. Help them find ways to practice managing their time while in high school. You might even consider holding a group session to discuss the responsibilities they can expect to juggle on campus.
- Point them to your collegiate counterparts. Ensure your students are aware that, even at a large university, there will always be advisors with whom they can discuss their degree plans in person. If possible, help them figure out who their go-to person is for freshman advising.
Though you're not meant to act as a college advisor, being proactive and broadening the scope of your duties as a counselor will help your students get a jump start on a college plan. Though it’s true that your job technically ends the day they toss their caps skyward, the advice you give them now will last long after they’ve walked the stage, helping them save precious time and money and guiding them toward successful careers.
For more top advice from counselors like you and other professionals, check out our Counselors and Consultants—Ask the Experts section.