Student Life

5 Questions to Ask a School Counselor

Talking to your school counselor doesn't have to be intimidating.

Student Contributor, Danielle Steen

October 22, 2022

5 Questions to Ask a School Counselor
Simple questions to ask a school counselor.
Communication with your high school counselor is vital for your success in high school. Why? Because you're bound to run into questions that your school counselor would be perfectly able to answer for you, without the redundancy or irrelevancy Google results tend to display. High school counselors also have the ability to guide you through the college admissions process with personalized advice to fit your particular situation. But what should you even be asking your counselor? Well, wonder no more!
  1. Can I Take AP Classes?

    Depending on your school, you might know the answer to this question, but I certainly didn't. That's why it's so important to ask questions whenever they arise.
    Some schools happily announce that AP classes are available to be taken while others never directly mention them. You may or may not be interested in AP classes, but it's good to know what classes are available to you at any given time. As a virtual student, there aren't many opportunities to be notified about specific classes, which is why it's even more important to reach out and communicate with your counselor (but this piece of advice certainly applies to any high schooler).
  2. How Do I Build a Balanced College List?

    This one might be obvious, but it's definitely still worth mentioning: Ask your counselor for help with building a balanced college list. The keyword here is “balanced.”
    It can be easy to apply for colleges that are all out of reach without having enough “safety schools” mixed in, and it can be just as easy to undershoot. The goal with college lists is to have a reasonable amount of reach, target, and safety schools that you are excited about possibly attending. While it may be tempting to simply ask Google or Reddit, it's much more beneficial for you to go to your counselor instead. They'll be able to assess your academic performance, as well as other personal factors, and give you a completely unbiased and expert opinion about whether or not a school is a safety, target, or reach for you.
  3. How Do I Ask For Good Recommendation Letters?

    Recommendation letters don't play the biggest part in a college application, but they can still be very valuable as they give an outsider's perspective of who you are. I'm pretty unable to form any real connection with my teachers since my time with them is extremely limited and distant.
    Even if you attend a physical school, it can feel like you aren't “close” with any of your teachers, for one reason or another. A good idea would be to ask your counselor about how to ask for a recommendation letter. Give them a bit of context, tell them about yourself, and ask them what the best approach would be for you. It's all incredibly subjective.
  4. What Is My Current GPA?

    While it might seem insignificant at first, or you may be able to guess it, it's incredibly important to know your exact GPA in high school. Your GPA tells you where you stand academically, how much you need to improve, and where you stand in comparison to colleges’ admits (which is necessary for building your college list). Your GPA can also be useful for knowing your class rank, likelihood of winning merit scholarships, and applying for scholarships in general. Many scholarships have a GPA cutoff, so knowing whether or not you make the cut before starting your application is very useful.
  5. What Scholarships Should I Apply For?

    Don't get me wrong: Google is an amazing tool for searching for scholarships, as long as you know what you're doing. However, chances are that your school counselor knows of a few scholarships that might not be easily found online (ie. state-offered scholarships, school-specific scholarships, etc). Scholarships can go a long way when thinking about possible debt accumulated due to private student loans. Not all scholarships are merit-based or need-based, either; some are both, and some are neither. There are essay, raffle, and criteria-based scholarships out there. There are likely other types, but these are the main three. Your school counselor can walk you through each one, provide you with your transcript, and guide you through the scholarship application process much more than any online resource could (though they can definitely be helpful).
If you have a question about college or school in general, ask your counselor. It's much better to ask a seemingly “obvious” question than to be confused about something that could've been cleared up quickly. There are many other questions you may consider asking your counselor, but these are a nice baseline to give you a general idea of what you might want to ask. Good luck, and happy asking!

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