Students really have to stay on track while in high school in order to be well prepared to meet their long-term college and career goals, and as I've mentioned before, their high school guidance counselors can be an invaluable asset in helping them do so. But what exactly should your teen be asking of his or her counselor to get the most out of their meetings (which I suggest doing at least once a semester)? Below you'll find the five questions your high schooler should be sure to ask her guidance counselor.


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What classes should I be taking? The first and possibly the most important question your child should ask is which classes to take each semester. This should be discussed only after your child has talked to his counselor about what his goals for the future are, because someone who wants to learn a trade will not need to take the same classes as someone who wants to be a medical doctor. By sitting down with a counselor prior to each semester--beginning freshman year--to work out a course load tailored to his goals, your child can avoid wasting time on classes that will not help him meet his long-term goals. 

Aside from sports, which extracurricular activities are most impressive to colleges? Sports are wonderful, but are obviously limited by talent and natural ability, particularly on the collegiate and professional levels. So while they do look good on applications, they are not something that everyone is going to do or everyone will continue doing in college. Have your child talk to her guidance counselor about which other extracurricular activities are particularly impressive to college admissions officers. Obviously, if she has no interest in the activities the counselor suggests, she doesn't have to do them, but she may find that there are interesting options she never even knew about.

How can I improve my resume? The right classes and extracurricular activities look great on a resume, so if your child has already covered our first two suggestions, he should be in good shape to start building his resume. However, a guidance counselor can give him suggestions for bulking it up and can even help him format it, word it, proofread it and edit it so that the final product packs a lot of punch. 

What is the best way to know what my college/career options are? If she doesn't ask, your child could be missing out on opportunities to learn more about colleges she may be interested in as well as fields of study and future career options. There are hundreds of different colleges and as many if not more careers to choose from, but many kids have a tendency to feel limited by the popular choices in their geographic area--which may not be bad choices, but may not insight much passion either. Your child should ask his guidance counselor about college and career fairs that he may be able to attend. He can ask for book and website suggestions, as well as if his counselor knows of any other college and career planning resources that can help him thoroughly and inclusively research his options.

Is there anything else I should be doing right now? And lastly, this open-ended gem should be asked each and every time your teen meets with her guidance counselor. That way the counselor can feel free to make broader suggestions or suggestions that she may not have had the time to bring up in a session during which only very specific questions were asked. Guidance counselors spend a lot of time doing all sorts of research for hundreds of students, and something that was brought up by another child could also be useful for yours, so be sure the counselor has some time and freedom to offer her full knowledge base up to your son or daughter. 

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Topics: advice  education  parenting  school  teenager