What Parents Should Ask Their Child's School Counselor

Whatever you call the school counselor at your child’s high school -- guidance counselor, college counselor, etc -- please know that they are an integral part of the college application process. A few elements of their job are:

  • to offer college advice to you and your child
  • weigh in on the selection of courses for each year
  • write a school counselor recommendation on behalf of your child
  • send the transcript
  • communicate with colleges about your child’s application and interest

Some school counselors do this better than others, and usually it depends on their caseload of students.

As a parent, you should attend any college preparation presentations that your school offers. You should also have frequent correspondence with the guidance counselor, particularly during the junior and senior years.


There are specific questions that every college counselor should be able to answer for you through certain touch points in the process. Here are just a few:

9th and 10th Grade

  1. Should my child take the PSAT? When?
  2. Is my child on an Advanced, Honors, IB or AP track? (especially for math, science and foreign language)
  3. Which SAT Subject Tests should my child take, if any, this year? 
  4. Do the classes prepare students for the SAT Subject Tests?


11th Grade

  1. Can my junior child meet with college admissions representatives when they visit in the fall?
  2. When should we start to visit colleges? Which ones?
  3. Does our school use Naviance? If so, what is our username and password?
  4. When is our college information presentation?
  5. Do you have any sample case studies of applicants for us to review?
  6. Is there a list of students at certain colleges from our high school who we can speak to about their transition?
  7. What information goes into the school counselor recommendation?
  8. Do you read the teacher recommendations before they are sent?
  9. Can we see the school profile that you send to colleges?
  10. How often will we be able to meet with you?


12th Grade

  1. Do you have access to my child’s Common Application?
  2. Do you review essays? For grammar? Proofreading?
  3. How many colleges visit our school each year?
  4. What should my child say to an admissions officer when they visit?
  5. When will you send transcripts to schools?
  6. How do we know if our child’s application is complete?
  7. Does the school offer interview preparation?
  8. How often do you communicate with admissions officers? What do you say?
  9. Do you advocate for students’ on their behalf?
  10. Are you able to tell us when we will be notified of a decision?

Need help? Let our expert advice help you and your child to manage, execute and WIN the college application process.

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