If you’ve recently moved into your first position where you can help students find their way to college, there’s a good chance you haven’t had much (or any) training. Maybe you’re a new college counselor who’s still learning the ropes of admissions? Maybe you’re a teacher at a charter school who wants to do even more to help get your kids college-ready? Maybe you work at a non-profit or community-based organization and have opportunities to talk to teenagers about their journey to college? Whatever your role, here are a few recommended first steps to give you a jump-start and help you do an even better job guiding kids who depend on you. Some of these are shameless Collegewise plugs, but I promise I’m sharing them because I really believe they can help new counselors.
1. Don’t be proud; be honest.
College counseling is the rare profession where you can expect assistance without judgment when you admit that you don’t yet know what you’re doing. Most of us were once where you are right now—new, overwhelmed, and unsure where to start. So acknowledge what you don’t know, and ask for help when you need it. If you’re committed to doing your best work for the kids you serve, I think you’ll find that most people in our profession will respond in kind in the name of helping those who are on the front lines with students.
2. Read the two books shared below.
The first is my own book, and the second is by Patrick O’Connor, one of the nation’s most respected high school counselors.
My book will give you a comfortable expertise with all of the necessary parts of the process, from planning courses, to choosing colleges, to applying for financial aid. Patrick’s tackles the next—and vital—step of how you can best deliver this information to students. He even includes advice for evaluating your counseling program and taking advantage of ongoing professional development.
3. Check out the “Counseling Professionals” section of the NACAC website.
NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counseling) regularly produces publications and training webinars, as well as hosts regional and national conferences, all to educate both counseling and admissions professionals.
4. Join the “College Admissions Counselors” Facebook group.
This is a closed group, so you’ll need to prove you’re not a spammer (the easiest way to join is to get one of the 10,000 current members to add you). Every day, counselors and admissions officers post questions and share advice, all with the aim of helping everyone in the group become even more knowledgeable and better able to support their kids.
5. Sign up for Collegewise counselor training updates.
This year, Collegewise is launching a division to help train America’s high school counselors. If you’d like to be alerted when new offerings are made available, as well as be eligible for enrollment discounts and other special offers, just sign up here. I promise we won’t spam you or do anything to make you regret sharing your email with us.