As a high school administrator or member of a leadership team, you might be wondering how to structure your college counseling position. Should it be a 10-month long, 11-month long, or full-year role?
The answer to this question is:
Because it really does. It depends on the structure of your individual institution's college counseling department, it depends on the number of students that the counselor is supporting, it depends on the depth of college counseling programming that your school offers during the year.
While the typical high school schedule lends itself towards a college counseling role as being a 10-month position, there is plenty of work for a counselor to do over the summer. However, we also recognize that high school students (as well as high school faculty) can benefit from some time off during the summer to refresh and refocus. Therefore, we recommend that most college counselors work for 11 months out of the year.
June would be the time to wrap up the year, update the administration on various metrics about the graduating class, and to continue preparing materials for the fall. July would be an opportunity to step away for personal pursuits. August would be a month to ramp up ahead of a new school year by holding counseling sessions with students and families, by revising personal statements, and by completing the fall calendar of college counseling events.
The summer months are also a great time for growth and development. Because there is not a set standard for the education that a college counselor should have received, you want your college counselors to be self-motivated and to be passionate about their jobs. A number of college counseling professional organizations exist, both at the national level and regional levels; therefore, college counselors can use the summer months to attend professional development classes, to network with others in the field, to visit college campuses (or to at least continue researching colleges virtually), and to educate themselves on the trends that emerged in the college admissions world over the past year.
Ideally, your college counselor would be providing personalized support to students as they prepare their college application materials. The counselor should be reviewing students’ college lists, making a strategy for applying Early Action/Early Decision/Regular Decision, and discussing financial aid. They should be revising personal statements and supplement essays. Your college counselor should be providing feedback on teachers’ letters of recommendations (an area where many high schools show weakness) and be putting effort into their own counselor letter. They should be working with students on how they describe their extracurricular activities and helping students to identify any other circumstances that should be discussed in an application’s additional information essay. All of this work can be started over the summer to ease the burden on time that inevitable occurs during the fall months.
With college admissions becoming increasingly competitive, there is plenty of work to be done, which supports having a more robust yearly work schedule for your high school's college counselor.
About Oriel Education Group
Oriel Education Group is an educational consulting company, based in Princeton, New Jersey. We are the only consulting company that specializes in college admissions and college counseling improvement. We partner with high schools to assess the health of their college counseling department and to make changes for the benefit of their students and families.
The world of college counseling is a large one and there are many people supporting students through a complex admissions process. However, a standard for college counseling does not exist. There are no college counseling degrees, only a handful of certifications that can be earned. College counselors have a significant variety in experience and qualifications. In many high schools, college counseling exists but only in the background.
This is where Oriel Education Group comes in. We are college experts and we are creating the standard for what college counseling should be. Let’s partner together and do better for students and their families!