Questions for her high school counselor

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Questions for her high school counselor
By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:28 pm: Edit

DD and I meet with her college counselor on Thurs. I have a few questions in mind already, but I know you guys can help me think of things I've forgotten.

The counselor has already had a general group meeting with the parents covering the logistics of the process - the children have received a copy of their transcript, and should have checked it. We were given packets with the school's profile, and forms the school requires. Her school will read over, pack and mail 6 applications. They will prepare copies of recs, profiles and transcripts, etc for as many as necessary. Her English teacher and an adult friend who is a good writer will read over her essays (the college counselor and ass't read the apps for typos and strike-outs, not essay content or grammar). She's applying to 10 schools, 2 of which are "ultimate safeties", so I think we can get them to read her 6 most important apps.

What questions should I ask - my biggest is how close to ranking without ranking can you get?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:58 pm: Edit

Your question about ranking is a good one. I assume your child's school doesn't rank. My D's school didn't either, but the profile contained information making it clear that her GPA was very high for that school (no one had had a 4.0 in recent memory, and grades were not weighted). That was enough for me, and if they said anything more in the counselor's rec, I don't know.

Another question worth asking is how kids from your child's school have performed in admissions at the 10 schools she will be applying to. They should be able to give you the "track record," without divulging names of course (D's counselor told her roughly the GPAs and SAT scores of those who had applied the previous year). Some schools actually keep a binder of this.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:02 pm: Edit

Ask if the school keeps scattergraphs of applications over the last five years. If they do, ask to see the scattergraphs (SAT/GPA stats vs Admittance) of the schools D is intersted in.

S's former HS did not rank, but scattergraph showed very clearly that NO ONE from that particular school was admitted to G'Town with less than a 4.0. Even without rank, HS and college have unwritten codes.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:54 pm: Edit

We left a similar meeting with a list of schools that the CGC recommended for son to consider. You might ask for something similar (sounds like you've already decided on the ten, though).

Son's GC also receommended that he take SATs once more. She reviewed his courses for senior yr and made sure he was rigorous enough and congratulated him on organizing a meeting with a dept head to get into a popular class in which he was particularly interested(son never told me about this).

I also used this meeting to fill GC in on son's our of school ECs. She had no idea that son was involved in anything outside of school, let alone that he was Prez of a large organization.

I would take the time to let the GC know about your Ds outside activities and interests.

See if the school publishes a list of college choices over the last 5 rank of most commonly selected schools.

Does your Ds school feed any colleges?

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:16 pm: Edit

Yes, it feeds the 2 big state unis..

Actually those are good questions, I doubt they have scatterplots because very few (but still some) go to selective schools. I know there was one Harvard admit last year, and my daughter's schedule is the same - hardest anyone has ever done. I don't think anyone in living memory has been admitted to her first choice school or her second for that matter, but we'll see. I know someone has been admitted to the school that's probably 3rd.

The high school is a feeder to one of her safeties, an excellent lower LAC that she would be happy attending. Depending on what the GC says about that she may drop a safety. Right now she is applying to 5 safeties or near safeties, and basically 5 reaches. Two of the safeties are in state schools with rolling admissions, she added those last week, just to get her feet wet, and develop some confidence.

I'm concerned about ECs, and that my daughter may not brag enough.

Anyother ideas?

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

And don't be stunned if your d's GC recommends some schools that seem to be beneath her stats or seems to discourage your d. from applying to schools that no one else from that h.s. has ever applied to. I think both are quite common. Guidance Counselors are like the rest of us - they tend to favor the known quantity over the riskier one. I think it's important to let the GC know that you and your daughter have already done some preliminary research about school possibilities. On the other hand, be open to suggestions for different schools!

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

(my daughter may not brag enough.)

Confidence is so hard to reach, well.

Imagine this...

you mention your Ds top accomplsihments to the GC. The GD says somthing like "ohhh, I had no idea, D..that's definitely something tp talk about in your application" and your D just nods is silence, with you and the GC nodding in unison.

I guess that's why applications ask such would otherwise not mention such things.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:46 pm: Edit

Momsdream's experience with the GC is a reminder to bring a resume to the meeting. When the GC writes the rec, s/he can refer to its contents. I doubt my S's GC even knows what in-school ECs my S is involved in, and yet, he has met him several times a year over the last two years.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

Do you think it's more important for the counseling office to read merit scholarship apps, or the dream school app, or the middle of the group of reaches which are the schools I think she will most realistically end up attending?

The school will proof and pack 6 apps - of her safeties, the 2 rolling schools will give merit, one has an essay - I think we can handle those. Five of her reaches give no merit money unless she squeeks into Nat'l Merit Semi, then Carleton I think gives her some automatic money - those 5 the school should do. If the school then does her ED, that leaves the 2 scholarship schools with the most complicated applications for us to do! Maybe we should rethink this

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit


I don't quite understand. If your D applies ED, she can only submit one application; the rest can be submitted if she is rejected or deferred. Is this your understanding?

By Momrath (Momrath) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 02:44 am: Edit

Cangel, It sounds like you have an organized and helpful counseling department at your daughter's highschool. Since she's pretty much already narrowed in on her choices, the most productive area that your GC can now help you with is the GC recommendation.

First, I would strongly suggest that she formulate a resume, with all of her achievements, awards, interests itemized. This will really help the GC stay on topic and give examples and will also help in filling out the apps and as a prompter during interviews.

Your daughter absolutely must blow her own horn! The application is the place to shine. Reinforcing and enhancing achievements is essential and is not the same as arrogance. This applies not just to the GC rec, but to all parts of the application. Tell her to save the modesty for the congratulations after she's been accepted. If she's going for selective schools, she'd better go for the jugular (in a refined, articulate and forceful manner, of course.) I looked back over some of your other posts, and feel that your daughter is extremely desirable candidate for a top school. She really needs to get her accomplishments and PERSONALITY across on paper.

Our school didn't officially rank, but since they did have a Val and Sal, they were keeping track and knew everyone's standing. Our son's rank was nothing to write home about (maybe upper end of the second percentile.) I never saw what his GC wrote, but in conversation the GC implied that he could present this information in a vague enough manner that would essentially bump him up into top tier. The point is to discuss this with your daughter's GC so you know how they will characterize her non-ranked rank.

Since her HS doesn't limit the total number of schools she can apply to, it really doesn't matter how many safeties she has as long as she's satisfied with ONE. (Be thankful!) I think between yourself and a sympathetic teacher, you could cover the application checking without the GC's help. Most likely she'll be using the same essays anyway and if she's using the common app on line, she only has to enter information once.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:42 am: Edit

Marite, I'm not sure how it works at her school, but I think we have to send them in and then rescind them if she is accepted ED. The counselor requires all apps to be in by Dec 1 if they are going to read them, then they gradually read through and mail them. They help us keep track of which ones have to be rescinded.
Thanks guys, I'll use this post to list my questions.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 09:07 am: Edit


It seems very unfair to do it this way since it entails application fees. If you go the ED route and have another 5 apps at $60 a pop, that's $300 out of pocket that may not be necessary. I could see apps completed by Dec. 1 (we'll do it this way, too, since we shouldn't rely on teachers and GCs to do last minute reading) but it should be no trouble for the GC to hold onto completed apps and send them in (or not) after word has come back from the ED school. The deadline, after all, is not until Dec. 31. Can you check with your school? What do parents on a tight budget do?

By Cangel (Cangel) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 09:32 am: Edit

They may well hold the applications in the office. A couple of DD's schools seem to say send the money in first with the part I, so the money would go before the teacher recs and the rest of the main package. Others waive the fee if we apply online, so basically it seemed to work out in the wash. It is unusual for anyone to use all 6 apps - about 30/150 have already sent in their single application, and some have already been accepted. Probably 10-15 kids tops will go through a formal application process, as is discussed on this website, and only a couple will use their 6 apps.

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:25 pm: Edit

At our high school they have a general college night Jr year where they basically tell you the basics. UC requirements, testing etc. nothing that we did not already know. They did give out a copy of the transcript when they picked up their pre-enrollment packet last week. Inside they had a schedule of when things need to be done by. They also have a night where they help you fill out your UC and CSU apps. That.s about it.
They do have a career center that brings in college reps in the fall. They work on the personal statement for the UC's in English class.
It seems if you are interested in out-of-state or privates you are on your own.
I looked up some stats. from 2 years ago. About 50% go on to the city college. 30 kids out of 450 went out-of-state. I don't think they have much experience with smaller less known schools.

I think it will be quite an experience. And as D says the problem with being the oldest is the learning curve.

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