Working with Your Counselor to Prepare a Great Application

Photo of Lisa Mortini

Learn how to collaborate best with your school counselor

Applying to NYU does not have to be a lonely process. Your school counselor will be there to help you navigate the complex waters of college admissions. Here are a few pointers so you can make the most of this connection.

Identify Who and How

It’s worth taking the time to find out who you should approach exactly. What is your school counselor’s name and title? Are they a professional advisor? Are they a teacher? Some international schools even employ specialists dedicated to local, European, and US college applications! Once you have their contact details, do find out what the best way to engage with them is. For instance, do they prefer email or one-to-one appointments? Do they have open office hours? How many students do they look after? When are their busiest times? With this info in hand, you’re ready to connect with them efficiently.

Get An Early Start

Your school counselor will have a lot to do to support your application. On top of advising you on a regular basis, they’ll have to liaise with other stakeholders, like teachers and admissions staff, and produce critical documents. It takes time to write thoughtful recommendations, to fill in school profiles and reports, to generate your school transcripts. If you’re applying in November, then don’t approach your counselor on October 15th. You have missed the boat. If you’re applying in January, don’t think you can use the Christmas / New Year holidays to get your application sorted. You won’t hear back in time. Most importantly, do inform your counselor of your plans early to get them on your side as soon as possible. The early bird catches the counselor!

Come Prepared

You will want to do your homework here – yes, I said the H word! In other words, do research your universities of interest in depth:

– Define what matters to you, what you can compromise on, and what you do need
– Have a shortlist of schools, with pros and cons
– Outline the various application processes and deadlines…

All this preparation will pay off as you won’t waste any time going around in circles. When you meet with your counselor after that, you will have a solid base for your discussions.

Ask For Honest Advice

Counselors know universities well. They know us, admissions professionals, well – maybe they even had our job before. Most importantly, they know YOU. They are a fountain of knowledge to help you to decide which universities would be right for you. As a result, you should ask for their honest advice, even if you’re not sure you want to hear it. With your academic strength, extracurriculars, and aspirations, where would you fit in well? When does applying to ten reach schools becomes a waste of time? Is this the right topic for your personal statement? Your counselor will certainly not sugar-coat it and their clear advice will help you make the right choices.

LISTEN To This Honest Advice!

Good counselors are experts as what they do. Therefore, there is not point if asking for their advice if you will not be considering it. Counselors are professionals who thrive on your success. Their jobs literally depend on it! They want to see you do well. In short, do ask tough questions, be truthful in your answers to their own questions, and listen to suggestions with an open mind.

Connect With Others

For many, there is strength in numbers. Some of your classmates will be in the same boat as you, trying to figure out this convoluted process. Ask your counselor if there are other classmates in your high school who are applying to the colleges you are keen on. You can then create a “prep group” where you share ideas and information and help each other to succeed.

AND FINALLY... Take Ownership

In conclusion, remember one thing: YOU are the one who will be going to university. Your counselor is not here to choose your dream school, fill in your application for you or write your essays. They will however share their industry knowledge, help you understand the process, and gain new skills. Ultimately, the success of your application is YOUR responsibility.

BUT LISA! What If My School Does Not Have A Counselor?

This can happen. Maybe the job has not been filled yet or your school simply does not have the resources for such a position. In many countries outside of the U.S., the role many not even traditionally exist! Simply ask one of your favorite teachers if they could assume, if temporarily, the role of counselor. Likewise, maybe the principal could help, a head of department, a career advisor or even a librarian (they know everything!). School staff will always find ways to support you on your college journey.

Don’t forget that there are also plenty of online resources to help you, just one Google search away. Additionally, feel free to reach out to the Admissions Team of the university you are applying to – for NYU, we are at admissions@nyu.edu. We’re certainly here to help!