Your high school counselor can be a great ally in assisting you during the college application process. A Letter of Recommendation is one way your counselor can show support. So how does s/he know what to write?

Apart from meeting with you, guidance counselors use your responses to the “ Senior Survey” to understand your goals and strengths. An Assistant Director of Admission at Chapman University said, “High school counselors are our partners. They provide valuable information about our applicants and we trust them to be honest and forthright with us. Their letter is often the most important letter we read in a file.”

Just like your high school counselor provides accurate information to college admissions offices, you should be honest and thoughtful in your responses when filling out the Senior Survey. Stay positive, even when asked about what you did not like or what your weaknesses are. If you’ve faced challenges, talk about them. You can downplay issues to an extent but not to the point you’re skimming over something serious.

You should also know that your high school counselor is quite busy. When writing your Recommendation Letter, it’s not uncommon for a counselor to use quotes from your answers to the survey. That’s why it’s important to make a real effort when providing responses.

Your school may use different questions, but these will get you started.  Remember to put some thought into your answers.

1. What are your plans for next year?

Be specific! Name colleges you are interested in, potential majors, extra-curricular activities you are interested in, graduate school, career ideas…..

2. Which courses at our school have you enjoyed the most and why?

2 – 3 short strong sentences here.

3. Which courses at this school have you enjoyed the least and why?

1 sentence and do not bash the teacher. Simply explain why.

4. Is your high school record an accurate measure of your ability and potential?

If yes, great!

If not, why not? This takes introspection and is worth thinking through and answering intelligently.

5. Have you participated in any summer programs, work or study opportunities that have been of significance importance to you?

3 – 5 sentences.

6. What do you believe are your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses? Explain.

Please list one, minor weakness, and don’t go into detail. If you can briefly discuss how you are addressing it, even better.

7. List 5 adjectives that describe you and explain.

Use the personality profile that we did to find these adjectives.

8. What do you plan to study in college and why?

If you haven’t decided on a major, what academic area(s) interest you?

9. What is your favorite thing to do that you don’t think I know about?

10. What has been your most memorable positive experience at this school? Or what accomplishment are you most proud of and why? Please describe.

11. List all extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs and community organizations. Include years of participation.

You can give your counselor a copy of the activities sheet or resume.

12. Is there anything else you think is important for us to know as we develop your Letter of Recommendation?

This is an opportunity to thank them for their support.

*Show your answers to your parents for quality assurance before you submit it to your high school guidance counselor.

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