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Three things guidance counselors don’t tell you…but they should.

Guidance CounselorGuidance counselors, while they don’t have classes to teach or papers to grade, may be the most harried adults in any school. Counselors perform a variety of tasks including course selection, college visits, college and scholarship applications, standardized testing, and counseling students with problems. There aren’t enough hours in a day. While they have students’ best interests in mind, counselors sometimes are hesitant to paint a picture that’s less than rosy. Here are three things that counselors should tell their students, but often do not for fear that students aren’t ready to hear the honest truth.

  1. Every student applying to college is smart and meets the basic admission requirements. To be admitted, students often have to stand out from other applicants. What makes students stand out? Students who have exhibited leadership and service at their schools have a step on those students who just went to class. It’s not enough to just attend classes; students need to be able to show that they can manage their time wisely. College students often juggle classes with jobs and activities related to their major. Colleges are more likely to admit students who are already adept at balancing school, activities and work.
  1. Participating in a numerous clubs and sports does not necessarily show leadership or involvement. Choose a few activities and commit to making a difference in those organizations. Create a philanthropy event for your group, or become the chair of an existing one. Find an organization in your community that has a mission similar to your school group and create a partnership and work together to better your community. Being the editor of the school newspaper shows the ability to meet deadlines and lead a staff. Is there a group of students at your school with a particular interest? Start a club.
  1. Community service hours matter. Performing 500 community service hours with multiple organizations is impressive, but so is making a consistent commitment to one or two organizations. Spend an hour or two a week tutoring younger children at after school programs. Going every week helps the students, provides routine for the young learners and shows dependability and commitment. Animal shelters, community kitchens, food pantries and nursing homes all need volunteers. Find something you enjoy and make it a routine.

Today it’s not enough to just have good grades. Top colleges are looking for students who bring more to the table. They want students who are going to earn degrees and make their campus a better place.



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Kelly Short is a 20-year advocate of public education and has been happily teaching journalism and photography to high school student journalists. She, also, advised numerous award winning student publications during her career.

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