Don’t Let the Guidance Counselor “Under-Match” Your Kid’s College List

I used to be a school guidance counselor and I understand what they go through. It’s a lot to work with a caseload of kids and have to advise them on their classes, tests and college lists. I honestly believe that they want the best for your child but sometimes they’re just too overwhelmed to give you the best advice that you need to succeed. 

First of all, what many of us called “guidance counselors” are now supposed to be called “school counselors” or “Deans.” The title may have changed, but the job description remains the same:

  • Help all students to apply academic achievement strategies
  • Help all students plan for postsecondary school options (college, military, workforce)

So, what is “under-matching?” Under-matching is when a school or independent college counselor poorly evaluates a student’s chances for admission. It’s when they suggest colleges that are not good matches for a student by not taking into consideration the student’s strengths, interests, aspirations, culture or family dynamics. An “under-matched” college list only includes schools that the counselor is familiar with or is generated from a free algorithm like College Xpress or Big Future (College Board). You and your child deserve better. 

Here’s how I can help:

We're at the point in the school year where students and parents should be connecting with their school guidance counselor. Here are 10 questions that parents should ask:

  1. Will you make the college list for us?
  2. What kinds of grades do different colleges require and do you recommend any specialized or elective courses for my kid? 
  3. Are there any AP/Honors/IB or Advanced courses available? 
  4. What is your opinion about colleges not requiring the SAT this year?
  5. Is this school a testing center for the ACT or SAT, or do I need to go somewhere else nearby? 
  6. Do you have college handbooks, guides, websites or resources that we can use to help us?
  7. What activities should my kid be doing to strengthen their application? 
  8. Which teachers should write my child’s recommendations?
  9. Do you need any information from me to help you to know my child better?
  10. What is your role in helping my child with the application and essays?

Lots of questions. Here’s how I can help:

Your school counselor may be the most wonderful and accessible person on the planet, or they may be juggling thousands of students and barely know your child’s name. If this is the case, please schedule a time for us to hear about your child’s college interest so we can suggest ways we can help with their college list, admission strategies, and overall application process.