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For even the most seasoned high school counselor, guiding students in their post-secondary plans can be complicated. Each student brings their own unique story and set of experiences, and it can be hard to know where to start. Check out these three simple steps that will give you the foundation to offer the best support to your students when they start college planning. 

Get to Know Your Students

It’s difficult to advise someone you don’t know! Take the time to ask your students about their interests, likes, dislikes, goals, and aspirations. If money weren’t a factor, what would be their dream career?  How do your students envision their futures? What do they value? When you learn the answers to these questions, you can better support your students and find a post-secondary plan that fits their goals, lifestyles, and preferences. Here’s more information about being a mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Share Trusted Resources

When sharing resources, it’s important to stay up-to-date on all the current tools and technologies. With ever-changing processes for college and career planning, keeping up with new resources will help you better understand the challenges students face today. Form a network with your colleagues as a way to collaborate, ask questions, and keep each other engaged in your field.  

Consider adding the following resources to your collection:

  • A college planning account. Check out our offerings at myOptions®; our program is completely free!  
  •  The online FAFSA form.  
  • Nonprofits that provide tools and resources to aid students in their journey. Some of our favorites include Swift Student, uASPIRE, and Common App

Bring in the Family

If possible, schedule a meeting with your students and their parents or guardians. During this meeting, you can set the agenda. If a meeting isn’t feasible, encourage your students to discuss their plans after college with their families. Coach them on questions to ask and communicate the importance of these conversations. This can be done by modeling what a transparent conversation looks like, and allowing the opportunity for everyone to be on the same page. Additionally, stay aligned with your students’ progress, and encourage that same alignment with their families and mentors. Establishing a support network for your students is essential to their success. 

When your counseling practices are guided by the genuine care for your students, you can’t go wrong. Take interest in your students’ lives and provide the resources they need to start college planning with confidence. No matter what, counseling from the heart will always result in great support for your students.