Should Guidance Counselor Call Ivies to Advocate for Admission?

What is your question?:A colleague recommended that my daughter, who is seeking admissions to two Ivy League schools, ask her guidance counselor (he said her “college placement person”) to call the schools to let them know how strong a candidate she is and how well she would do at the schools. Do you agree with this recommendation?

Colleges … especially the most sought-after ones … do not want to hear from guidance counselors by telephone right now, during their craziest season, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Presumably, your daughter’s counselor advocated for her acceptance when submitting the transcript and “School Report,” which includes a required counselor recommendation.

So the counselor should only contact the colleges by telephone if there is some new or revised information that should be reported pronto. This could include anything from, “Hilda’s AP Physics teacher ran off with the babysitter last Tuesday, so that’s why there’s no science grade yet on her latest report card,” to, “When I wrote Hilda’s recommendation back in December, I didn’t know her well. But in recent weeks we’ve served together on our school’s Racism Awareness Committee and I’ve been blown away by how wise and articulate she is …”

However, colleges also ask for an official Mid-Year Report, which guidance counselors usually submit right around now. So, if there is indeed new information to impart, the counselor can put it in that Report—if it hasn’t yet been sent–and there is no reason to deliver it by telephone. (Once in a great while, when a school counselor has a long and strong relationship with the college admission representative who oversees applicants from that school, the counselor may call the rep to sing the praises of a particular applicant. But this isn’t common, and it isn’t something that your daughter can request. The school counselor will know if it’s apt and, if so, will do it without prompting.)

More typically, if the school counselor calls Ivy League colleges this month to serve as a cheerleader for your daughter’s candidacy, it’s probably going to make the counselor look like a rube in admission offices. This isn’t necessarily going to work against your daughter but it won’t help her either.

But if your daughter is eventually waitlisted by any of her top-choice schools, it WILL then be appropriate for the counselor to call the colleges to lobby on her behalf. While some colleges do not accept phone calls of this nature, the majority will, and sometimes this added show of support from a guidance counselor during the waitlist phase of the process … but not during the Regular Decision round … can help push a folder toward the In pile.

(posted 2/4/2014)

Question about admissions, financial aid, or college search?
ASK THE DEAN