Today, a large part of high school is spent gearing towards the next four years of one's life. From extracurriculars to grades to test scores, countless components of high school place a heavy emphasis on college. From figuring out what subject tests to take to what colleges to apply to to how to write a good essay, students use college counselors as figures of support and guidance in the long, yet rewarding college process. While Menlo provides an excellent college counseling system, many Menlo students seek additional support— I was one of them. Staff photo by Gillian Bressie.
By Kaitlin Baldwin
I decided to use an outside-of-school college counselor not because I was unsatisfied with Menlo’s college counseling program, but rather because I wanted additional input. I wanted a supplement to the already amazing resource that Menlo provides. To some, an outside-of-school college counselor seems excessive and costly; however, to others, an outside-of-school college counselor makes the long process smoother and less stressful.
I met with my outside-of-school counselor for an hour four times per month and even more frequently during the summer— way more than I met with my school college counselor. School college counselors have more students to focus on than an outside-of-school college counselor does, so a higher meeting frequency naturally comes with using an external counselor. Through having more meetings, my external counselor was able to get to know me better, which is something that naturally comes with spending more time with someone. After just a few sessions, my external counselor developed a strong understanding of what schools fit me. Furthermore, my external counselor could help me find angles to essays that are solely unique to me and my personality.
Another benefit of working with an external counselor is that procrastination, the seemingly harmless yet alluring force that prevents you from completing all obligations, is kept at bay. My external college counselor motivated me by setting up meetings and deadlines for me throughout summer. Summer is filled with so much free time, and my external counselor helped to ensure that I used my time efficiently. So much so that I was done with at least the first drafts of all my essays by the time senior year came rolling around.
My external counselor had a reservoir of ideas and opinions that helped me with figuring out which schools to apply to and how to angle my essays. Sure, my essays would’ve been great without an external counselor; however, through using an external source, I found angles that I wouldn’t of thought of myself. Another mind is sometimes what you need to guide you past own blocks. My external counselor and I would find the best angle to approach an essay and then she would give me deadlines to complete the draft. After completing the drafts, I would bring them to counselor and she would give me opinions on them. I would then take her opinions and rework my essay, ultimately creating essays that truly relayed my voice. Through using an external counselor, I optimized my potential.
Yes, outside-of-school counselors are expensive. Furthermore, if you are someone who is organized and on top of it, you may feel like you may not need an external counselor. That being said, an outside-of-school counselor makes the process easier for everyone. I consider myself extremely organized and on top of it; however, my external counselor provided me endless support and guidance through the very complicated and stressful process. She made me more relaxed and able to enjoy my last year of high school and I am infinitely thankful for that.