An asset to applications

With college application deadlines approach, seniors turn to counselors for assistance in the process of applying to different colleges and financial aid.

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An asset to applications

Counselor Jacelyn Miller meets with senior Kayla Conner during school to discuss college applications.

Counselor Jacelyn Miller meets with senior Kayla Conner during school to discuss college applications.

Nicky Lentsch

Counselor Jacelyn Miller meets with senior Kayla Conner during school to discuss college applications.

Nicky Lentsch

Nicky Lentsch

Counselor Jacelyn Miller meets with senior Kayla Conner during school to discuss college applications.

Lauren Fischer, Staff Writer

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As seniors approach many college application deadlines, counselors put in work behind the scenes to help organize and  streamline the process. Counselors meet with students, such as senior Grady Wright who visits with his counselor about every week, to assist them in the college application and selection process.

Wright said he started going to his counselor for help with college applications this year, and he meets with her regularly to discuss where he is in the process. He also uses Naviance, an online, school-provided resource that aids students with college and career readiness.

“Using your counselor and Naviance is really helpful and makes the process a lot easier and quicker,” Wright said.

Senior AVID teacher Bill Smithyman said counselors can be a valuable asset not only to students, but also to teachers in the college application process. Teachers often get information from counselors to help students with college applications.

“[Counselors] are really good about helping [teachers help students] with college fairs, financial aid, what is available, when the college fairs are and which ones are the good ones to go to, and they provide help on recommendation letters,” Smithyman said. “Counselors are really good at giving our students a timeline. What I like about our counselors is that they are not just defensive, they are on the offense.”

Counselors begin meeting with students their junior year to discuss what the students are interested in and timelines for applications. Students then meet with their counselors as needed to decide on what colleges to apply to, talk about recommendation letters and gain information about applying to college.

“Our role is to be a resource and support as students are going through the process and answer any questions,” counselor Kim Goldsmith said.   

A large percentage of time students spend with their counselors is aimed at deciding what students’ interests are and which college would be right for them. Counselors often explore other options with students, such as trade schools, counselor Jacelyn Miller said.

Miller also said that with all the different schools students apply to, it can be difficult to keep up with college requirements. Goldsmith added that these requirements can change, and students can sometimes have a hard time staying on top of the application deadlines.

In Smithyman’s experience, it can also be difficult for teachers to help students apply for college.

“Everybody is in a different spot, and it is really hard for me to provide whole-class programming when one kid may be applying to an art school, which is different than the four year schools,” Smithyman said.

Wright said remembering all of the deadlines for each application and getting everything done can be a challenge as well. He is currently applying to nine colleges.  

“Over the summer I had a general idea of a few of the colleges, and then at the start of senior year I really started to research individual colleges and make a list,” Wright said.    

After seeing many students go through the application process, Smithyman, Goldsmith and Miller all offered words of advice to students applying to college.  

“Start early, keep your options open, go on a college visit, and  pick a school that is right for you,” Miller said.       

Miller said that although helping students apply to college can come with frustrations, there are rewarding parts of the process as well, such as seeing a student get accepted into the college they worked hard to get into.

“I had a really rewarding experience with a senior last year who I helped a lot with writing a letter and getting into school,” Miller said. “She came back and wrote me the nicest note, and knowing that she was really excited about the school she got into, and I had a tiny part in that, was really cool.”