Notify The Guidance Counselor Of Your College Admissions Requirements.

It’s time to tell high school guidance counselors that timing is everything.

Guidance counselors are known to screw up big time: they can be too late in submitting the necessary paperwork to meet college admissions requirements. Result: Students don’t get into their first-choice colleges. It’s real damage that’s too late to fix.

Here’s how you can take control. And take control you must.

To make sure someone in the guidance office gets it, send the following email to each of the school guidance counselors at the high school attended by your student, and send it any time before October 1. The school’s website should have the email address of each of the guidance counselors: click on the button for Guidance.

This is what you place in the Subject area: Paperwork to be sent to the colleges

Then type in the following:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the care and diligence you will take regarding my child’s transcripts and teacher letters of recommendation that are required by the colleges. To assist you in this endeavor and to assure that my child’s college application process runs smoothly, here is what I expect from your guidance department:

  1. On or about October 15, I will email you a reminder as to when to submit my son’s/daughter’s paperwork that meet the college admissions requirements of each college.
  2. I want all required paperwork for the colleges to be sent no later than ten days before the college’s required deadline. For example, if a college’s deadline is November 1 for Early Action, I expect my child’s paperwork to be mailed no later than Oct 22, with a follow-up email to me within 48 hours indicating such. Please do not be concerned with deadlines as I will notify you of them in advance.
  3. As a fail-safe measure, I will follow up with an email inquiry to each college, asking if they have indeed received the necessary paperwork from your office.

I will expect my child to be responsible for the actual submission of applications, essays, resumes, or anything else that may be required by the colleges.

Thank you.

Your Name
Parent of (student’s name)

Perspective: Never trust the guidance counselor – even if s/he’s your best friend –  to send anything on time or on your schedule. If you get the sense the guidance counselor isn’t taking you seriously, it’s time to be a hammer and treat the individual like a nail.
Please make  a comment below.

And why wouldn’t you? This is your child’s only shot at getting accepted to any college, and as a parent, you have a moral obligation to make absolutely certain that the guidance counselor assigned to your son or daughter is meeting your reasonable requests.

If you can help it, do not make phone calls to the guidance counselor. Always insist on an email response so you always have a record of what transpired.

When you follow up with your own email to each college to verify that the paperwork was sent (“Did you receive my child’s transcripts and teacher letters of recommendation?”); send two duplicate emails and a copy of the email back to the guidance counselor. Duplicate emails work better than a single email.

If you don’t receive an answer from the colleges within two days (they can screw up too!), email the same email message again (and again, two duplicates with copies to your guidance office) and place in the Subject area the following words: Second Request. Chances  are excellent you’ll get a more immediate response from the colleges.

If school guidance counselors at your high school require that you give them 10X13 envelopes with stamps, plus a separate fee to prepare and mail each application, that’s not unreasonable. Just be certain they understand that you also have terms that they must fulfill.

One of my clients had a son at a parochial school with a strict policy on handling all the paperwork for college. The school was suggesting that their son’s future would be placed in the hands of a guidance counselor who barely knew the student and was managing the paperwork for more than 50 (!) other students.

That’s when you know the red flag of Murphy’s Law is waving triumphantly: if something will go wrong, it will.

No school’s policy that keeps you out of the loop should be respected. I’ve seen students not get into the college of their choice because of a distracted or uncommitted guidance counselor who missed a college’s deadline, or forgot to send the student’s transcript. Such unconscionable possibilities should be addressed from the start of the college admissions process.

You can be a soft hammer, that is, you should be reasonable. But be persistent. As I always said to my children growing up, persistence pays.

Please forward the link to this blog to a friend who has a high school senior.
For advice on getting into the right colleges and on time (!), click here.


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4 Responses to “Notify The Guidance Counselor Of Your College Admissions Requirements.”

  1. Monica Matthews Says:

    Excellent and timely advice! I love the “soft hammer” visual. Parents can be diligent without being overbearing!

  2. suzanneshaffer Says:

    It’s the little details that can make all the difference. I can attest to having one of those fall through the cracks with my daughter’s high school counselor. It didn’t cost her admission, but it cost her financial aid. Parents need to stay on top of every single detail.

    • Paul H Says:

      What a story! But it’s so COMMON with high schools. Thanks, Suzanne, for your perspective.

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