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What should I do if my counselor is unhelpful?

QUESTION: Everyone tells me that I should talk to my high school counselor before I am a senior. The problem is that the counselors at my school aren't very helpful. I have learned from talking to my friends that they say the same thing to everyone. I feel like I am just a number. What should I do? Signed, Feeling Lost in a Crowd

Dear Feeling Lost: It is unfortunate that in many high schools the ratio of students to counselors is very high - sometimes 400 to 1. We have met many counselors and know that most are extremely hardworking and try to provide as much support as possible. We suspect that one reason why you and your friends are hearing the same thing is because your counselors want to make sure that everyone at least understands the basics of what it will take to get into college.

So instead of writing off your counselors, we recommend that you take a proactive approach. Schedule an appointment with your counselor and bring a list of questions that you want answered. If you go into your meeting with goals in mind you will be able to make the best use of your counselors.

Keep in mind that you don't want to rely only on your counselor. Be sure to approach other teachers, older friends (and yes) even your parents for advice. A teacher or a student who has gone through the college admission process before you can be a great source of information.

Ultimately you are the one who is responsible for choosing and getting into college. It's your future and you need to be willing to seek advice from every source you can find. It's a lot of work but you won't regret it.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.