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3 min read

Navigating College Choices: Counselor Tips for Student and Parent/Guardian Harmony

Navigating College Choices: Counselor Tips for Student and Parent/Guardian Harmony

This blog post is a recap of an Inside College Admissions podcast episode, hosted by Scoir. Listen to the podcast episode here.

 

Balancing work, family, communication, and finances is hard enough as an adult, let alone as a teenager. 

Thankfully for counselors like you, students can learn the valuable skills of finding balance and interpreting the input of others during the college search and application process. 

This is a great opportunity to foster student and parent/guardian collaboration as well, especially as they transition into the next phase of their relationship where the student becomes more independent.

Equipped with the right questions and strategies, counselors can illuminate the path for students and their parents/guardians. In a recent Inside College Admissions podcast episode, host Kaila Brown, a former high school counselor, and Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville, shed light on this process and the opportunities it provides counselors to:

 

Ask Students the Right Self-Discovery Questions

One of the main challenges students face is aligning their college choices with their personal and academic aspirations. Often, they may be swayed by superficial factors like where their friends are going rather than considering their own desires and goals. Fulk emphasizes the importance of introspection, urging students to ponder questions such as:

  • Why do you want to go to college?
  • Which aspects of your high school experience did you like?
  • Which aspects of your high school experience did you dislike?
  • How might these experiences influence your college preferences? 
  • What are the required courses for my chosen major(s)?
  • What do you want to do beyond college?

Fulk mentions that many students he’s worked with didn’t realize they could look up colleges on Linkedin and learn what their alumni’s careers are. This can be a great way to gauge if a college may help a student reach their career goals.

“I think for all students, the one thing I try to emphasize is why. Why do they want to go to college?” 

- Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville

 

Encourage Transparency on Financial Considerations Between Parents/Guardians and Students

Financial concerns are a major factor in the college decision-making process. For many families, this should be the first consideration when crafting a college list. With one private institution’s sticker price reaching $100,000 per year, it’s better for many families to eliminate schools that may be out of budget immediately.

Fulk advocates for transparency and practicality, encouraging parents/guardians to assess the value proposition of each institution with their student, and evaluating how closely this aligns with the student and their goals.

Utilizing tools like net price calculators can provide clarity on the true cost of attendance, facilitating informed discussions about affordability early in the process. By openly discussing expectations and financial constraints, families can avoid unnecessary stress and build a more accurate college list.

 

“So much of the conversation now is a student’s likelihood of getting into a college, but I think a big part of that is: ‘What is affordability?’”

- Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville

 

Bridge the Gap for Student and Parent/Guardian Communication

Fulk highlights the importance of creating an open dialogue around what makes a college a great fit. By establishing a cadence for discussions and eliminating judgmental language, families can foster mutual understanding and cooperation. Fulk encourages families to build structure boundaries around regular check-ins to foster communication.

 

“One exercise we do at the start of junior year is a worksheet done by a non-profit called Challenge Success that we adapted. It has 50 characteristics of colleges on it and we turned it into a Google Form. We have students fill that out and rank each characteristic, and we have their parents do it separately. We think one of the best first meetings students and parents can do together is to compare and contrast those notes.”

- Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville

 

“Whatever it is you think you mean by a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ college, say that out loud. And make sure: is your student aware that’s what you mean? How is your student defining good or bad? Let’s be very specific! The sooner you can eliminate euphemisms, like ‘that’s a good school’ or ‘that’s a party school,’ the better. Having specificity early on is important.”

- Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville

 

Navigate Milestones Leading up to Application Season With Less Stress

Fulk recommends a structured approach to application season, advising students to complete standardized tests by the end of junior year and utilizing resources like Scoir for streamlined application management. Additionally, tapping into free resources like those provided by the College Essay Guy can aid students in crafting compelling personal statements and essays. The more students and families can learn about the college application process, the less stressful it will be!

Counselors can find many more helpful college search and discovery resources on our page: The College and Career Planning Guide for Counselors and Advisors.

 

“I hope by the end of junior year, a student can articulate 3-5 characteristics that they want to prioritize in a school. If they’re a Scoir student, they should have schools in their Following list. This can depend on your own community and school.”

- Aaron Fulk, Director of College Counseling at the University School of Nashville

 

By asking the right questions to students and parents/guardians, providing strategies for open communication, and directing students to helpful application resources, counselors can empower students and families to navigate this journey with confidence and clarity. The role of counselors is not just to guide but to inspire, support, and advocate for the aspirations of each student, ensuring that they find their path to success in higher education and their career.

This blog post is a recap of the podcast episode: Navigating College Choices: Counselor Tips for Student and Parent/Guardian Harmony.

Help your students nail their personal statements - Scoir and College Essay Guy Course
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