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Seven Questions Seniors Should Ask Their High School Counselors

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Senior year isn’t too late for choosing a college, finding career direction, or choosing a major. It’s the perfect time for solidifying all three. After all, your student doesn’t have to make final college choices until March or later. 


Here’s what your student can ask their high school counselor to get clarity on their future:


Am I taking the right courses?


Taking the right courses is a combination of the courses that will help you graduate on-time, look good for colleges you’re considering, and courses that will help with college and major choices.


While you have already selected courses for this semester, you may still be able to switch classes. I did. I took a business course I normally wouldn’t have after switching out of another class that didn’t feel right to me anymore.  


Are there state schools that would work for me?


I don’t know many families whose student didn’t apply for at least one state school. The reason is if for some reason private schools don’t offer you the financial aid you expect, your family can still afford a college education.


And it doesn’t have to be a safety school. Sometimes the state school may be the goal. Some California state schools are fought for by top students from across the country. I went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to learn how to plan charity events. It was number two in the country behind an Ivy League school. I transferred to the University of North Texas that had five Pulitzer Prize winners in journalism. It wasn’t a ranked school, but I learned how great it was by calling the department office and asking the right questions. 


How can I arrange shadow days?


A shadow day is time you spend with a professional in a field you are interested in to either ask questions about their career or follow them around, i.e. shadowing.


Generally, you can arrange shadow days in four ways: through a special program, by calling professional organizations, by calling company HR offices, or through connections your teachers or high school counselors have to local employers. 


Your high school counselor can help with all four ways with contacts or advice.


What questions can I ask financial aid offices?


Asking the right questions of a financial aid office can determine just how much money you receive from a school. Your high school counselor can coach you on the right questions to ask and personal details you should give about your talents, interests, and academic record that will help you score more scholarships and grants. 


Which organizations can help me with career exploration?


There are more local organizations than you think for helping you find career exploration opportunities. The simple organizations to think about are the professional organizations, but you should also brainstorm with your high counselor community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club that can help you find college funding opportunities.


Am I on track for graduation?


It’s not just in the movies that a student ends up one course short of graduation. I had this happen in college when I had missed for semester foreign language requirement and had to fast track the courses during a summer at a community college. 


Ask both about whether you are on track for college graduation and if you can take a different course that can better prepare you for college acceptance and scholarship opportunities.


5 Takeaways

  • Don’t get caught one credit short of graduation or college requirements. Discuss where you are at with credits earned and where you need to be.
  • Go over all aspects of finding employers who may be interested in offering you opportunities to learn more about career options.
  • Ask your high school counselor for at least two good questions to ask college financial aid offices.
  • Have at least one state school in your list. If private schools don’t offer you enough scholarship and grant funding, you’ll borrow the least amount with this option.
  • Consider changing a course in your schedule to one that help you define career goals.

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