14 Secrets of College Counselors

My high school guidance counselor was always glad to see me because the bulk of his job was trying to keep delinquents out of jail. Helping me apply for college was a welcome diversion. Now schools employ people who spend all school year helping students with their college plans. Mental Floss spoke with several of those folks to get an idea of what goes on in their world (one counselor was responsible for 700 high school seniors every year). What they divulged can help parents and students negotiate that difficult period. Here's a sample.    


According to independent educational consultant Deborah Shames, who counsels students and families in northern New Jersey, helicopter parents are a very real thing. “I have had many, many helicopter parents who I suspect (or know) are doing the work for their kids, whether it’s the research, filling out the applications, creating the resume, or even writing the essays,” Shames says. “I have called out parents on this, explaining that this is only hurting their kid. Sometimes that’s effective; other times, not so much.”


While helicopter parents can be problematic, [Mae] Greenwald explains that apathetic parents are actually more difficult to deal with than overinvolved ones. “Students are frequently embarrassed by their overeager parents, but they aren’t really a college counselor's problem,” she says. “Less involved parents are far more bewildering.” When parents are unwilling to participate in the college choice process or are unenthusiastic about their child’s future, students suffer and become less engaged in the process. “It strips the joy from exploring the future and students feel that in every ugly way,” Greenwald says. Parental involvement is also necessary when students fill out college financial aid forms, as they require information such as parents’ income and taxes. Failure to get this information from parents can become a big obstacle to students who might miss out on scholarship or financial aid funds.

Read plenty more of what college counselors see at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user Pasco County Schools)

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