Having teamed with students and their families while a high school counselor as well as an independent consultant, I have learned how to frame the college process, alleviating anxiety while offering a step-by-step approach which has proven to be helpful in managing the many details.
During the initial consultation, I engage the family in an extensive discussion, generally about 2_ hours long, to take a detailed history dating back to the early elementary school years and to determine what the intentions and expectations are for the student. I share in the recollections of the students favorite teachers, subjects, classes, summer and extra-curricular activities. I look to establish patterns of behavior in the students school and after-school activities and relationships.
We work out a plan for junior and senior years which will provide a clear path for the student to gain admission to a college of his or her choice. We focus on academics, reviewing the transcript and what courses the student is taking and discuss which are favorites and which are necessary. We talk about college testing, letters of recommendation, how to approach the SAT and/or ACT and what other exams should (or should not) be taken, and whether it makes sense for the student to take early exams.
Finally, we target 20-25 schools of the students choosing and evaluate them carefully, from class size and course options to location and extra-curricular activities. The student determines which colleges are of interest according to personal expectations. I explain to the student the process of how to research each college.