Here are 7 essential tips for navigating the role of school counselors and teachers in your college applications:
1. Understand Their Crucial Roles Recognize the pivotal role that your school counselors and teachers play in supporting your college applications. They provide vital elements like transcripts, school profiles, counselor recommendations, and teacher endorsements that offer context to your application.
2. Comprehend Your School’s Process Familiarize yourself with your school’s specific procedures for sending transcripts and recommendations to colleges. Schools often employ systems like Naviance, Scoir, or Maia. Be aware that advance notice is typically required, sometimes up to a month, to send these documents. Neglecting this process can lead to missed application deadlines.
3. Grasp What the School Provides School counselors are responsible for sending official school transcripts to colleges. These transcripts contain course history, grades, and your GPA. Additionally, counselors may submit a school profile detailing courses, graduation requirements, grading policies, and more. They may also write counselor recommendation letters.
4. Navigate Teacher Recommendations Many colleges require teacher recommendation letters. Carefully review the requirements, as some colleges specify the number of recommendations and subjects (e.g., math and English). Approach teachers personally to ask for recommendations, and don’t assume their willingness. They may request a brag sheet or a brief resume, often collected through an online questionnaire.
5. Adapt to Special Circumstances In light of the challenges posed by COVID-19, some students worry about the strength of virtual class recommendations. Consider alternative sources, like teachers from previous years or those who know you from extracurricular activities. Don’t hesitate to contact college admissions offices for clarification on whether they accept recommendations from these sources.
6. Know Your School’s Transcript and Recommendation Request Process Schools may have specific protocols for transcript and recommendation requests. Some require requests through platforms like Naviance, Scoir, or Maia. You may need to provide counselors and teachers with a resume or brag sheet, and in some cases, proof of application submission. Keep in mind that it can take weeks for busy counseling offices to provide these records, so plan well in advance.
7. Stay Ahead of Deadlines Coordinate with your counseling office and teachers early on, well before application deadlines. If you’re applying for Early Decision, Early Action, or fall Rolling Decision dates, be especially proactive. Avoid the pitfall of missing early deadlines by adhering to your school’s established processes.
By following these 7 tips, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the college application process with the support of your school counselors and teachers. Remember, they want you to succeed, but their time is limited. Proactively managing the process, understanding your school’s procedures, and working ahead of deadlines will ensure your applications are completed on time and set you up for success.