Applying for college is a huge task, often requiring support for the high school senior. Each of the three public high schools in Lamorinda have an on site College Counselor. The person is there to guide seniors through the college application process and provides reminders about deadlines as well as information about colleges. These counselors arrange visits from colleges to each of the high school campuses and helps students through the process, from beginning to end. The college counselors can be instrumental in helping with deadlines, graduation requirements and creating a list of schools that are potentially a reach, match or safety. College counselors can help with essays and obtaining letters of rec. They are also there to assist with submitting transcripts, test scores and financial aid applications. The counselors also help with parent education around the topic of college, testing, and working as a team to manage the senior’s stress and anxiety level. Lamorinda’s public school college counselors are a wealth of information and almost every high school senior passes through the college counseling office at some point. Local private high schools also have college counselors on site providing the same services.
Because a high school college counselor is dealing with hundreds of students, a family may decide to hire a private college counselor to help with all of the above. The decision to work with a private counselor is typically made based on a variety of reasons including the wish to have more time and individualization throughout the process.
A student can start the process of working with a private college counselor as early as freshman year and this is sometimes necessary to obtain a spot. Private college counselors typically limit the amount of students they take in each class, so they can fill up quickly. Some counselors work on an a la carte basis and provide services with an appointed price based on the need of the student (ie: essay writing), whereas some counselors provide package options to include high school course selection, forming a college wish list, comparing colleges, creating resumes, writing essays and short answers, completing applications and finally...deciding on a college to attend. The timeline is determined by the college counselor and time spent together typically ramps up from the spring of junior year through the fall of senior year when applications are due.
The private counselor will spend time to help a student evaluate not only the best fit, but also be able to present what is available. These counselors spend time travelling the country to research schools of all sizes and student populations. They may be able to present ideas to a student that they would not have considered. A college counselor can help you with timelines taking the SAT or ACT and can help with deciding if a test taking tutor is necessary. He/she can spend time setting goals for high schooler in order to work toward being able to be in a position to apply to the colleges on the student’s wish list. They can help evaluate the things that are important to the student such as campus size, location, activities, culture and of course, academics. The counselor can help a student decide which major to apply under and before that, help the student evaluate major options.
The college application process has many details and deadlines that need to be considered and a private counselor meets frequently with a high schooler to help manage this. This person can assist with ways in which to best position the high school senior so that the college essay(s) required by many colleges really showcases who the student is. They can help highlight extracurricular and work experiences. They can be invaluable in helping to keep everything organized via websites available to their clients to store wishlists, passwords, to-do lists, essays and more.
The cost of hiring a private counselor can be high and it can be a big family decision whether their student needs this level of support. Many students are both self-motivated and take advantage of the high school college counselor. Others find the accessibility and expertise of a private counselor invaluable. Lamorinda has dozens of counselors available, and with some online research you can read each counselor’s bio online. Most are available to meet in person or by phone to see if it is a good fit between the counselor and student. It’s an exciting time for both the senior and family, and partnering with either a high school or private college counselor can be instrumental throughout the process.