As parents, we all want the best for our children regarding their education and future. I am not only a college counselor but also the mother of teens, and I understand this from the parent’s perspective and as a school professional. The beginning of a new school year is a reminder that there are opportunities to approach this time with intention and purpose. Just as your teenager is returning to school, parents too should consider their start to the school year.
A key ally in your teen’s high school journey is the school and, more specifically, your child’s college counselor. They are both valuable resources, providing guidance and support to ensure your teen’s success.
7 ways to strengthen your connection with your teen’s school and college counselor
1. Schedule family meetings
Plan regular family meetings, ideally in the spring of your teen’s junior year and the fall of their senior year. These meetings offer an opportunity to discuss your teen’s progress, future goals, and any concerns or questions you may have. It’s also a chance to share your family’s objectives and hear the counselor’s insights. These meetings are a great way to keep communication lines open and to have everyone on the same page!
2. Attend school events, especially college programs
Make an effort to attend school events, college meetings, and back-to-school nights. Showing up and introducing yourself to your teen’s counselor, school principal, and other administrators can go a long way to building long-lasting relationships and fostering a sense of community.
Engage in small talk, ask questions, and let them get to know you and your teen. Your family’s attendance expresses your commitment to a strong partnership, and it is your way of recognizing the importance of these opportunities. Also, see this as another touchpoint to learn more about the school’s resources for the school year ahead and college planning.
3. Stay in communication
Regularly read email updates, newsletters, and other communication from your counselor. Schedule brief phone calls or meetings to address specific concerns or seek clarification if needed. Open lines of communication are critical and will help you stay informed about important dates, deadlines, procedures, and opportunities.
4. Complete the requested forms
Whenever your counselor asks for information or completion of forms and questionnaires, please be prompt and thorough in your responses. These documents often play a crucial role in your teen’s college applications and scholarship opportunities. Trust me — counselors do not ask for anything that is not important supplemental information to strengthen their role in supporting your teen.
Many schools will provide a parent questionnaire or reflection form during the junior year. Please (please!) complete this assignment thoughtfully and thoroughly. If your teen’s school does not formally offer this type of feedback, I encourage you to send the counselor an introduction letter providing insight into your teen. Share their strengths, accomplishments, areas of growth, and any information you deem important for them to know in authoring a college letter of recommendation or advising them.
5. Encourage your teen’s involvement
Encourage your teen to establish a rapport with their school and college counselor. Regular check-ins with the counselor allow your teen to share updates, ask questions, and seek guidance. A quick update can seem less intimidating for your teen and will help foster a relationship that will be more comfortable for them later on.
Is your teen wondering about summer opportunities within your town or wanting to discuss how their courses are going this year? Direct them to their school and college counselor for advice and support. These interactions lay the foundation for meaningful, invaluable relationships this year and next.
6. Be open and honest
Transparency is vital. Share your family’s needs, concerns, and expectations with your counselor. If financial aid or other specific factors are significant considerations for your family, don’t hesitate to discuss them openly. Has your family situation changed or has your teen suffered from a loss? Your counselor can better assist you when they have a complete picture of your situation.
7. Express gratitude
Finally, remember that counselors tirelessly support your teen academically, personally, and emotionally. Express your appreciation for their dedication and hard work. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in strengthening your partnership and fostering a positive connection.
Students need to feel that school connectedness and a sense of belonging
I wish I could express how you and your teen can connect with your school and college counselor, as the list is endless. Healthy school relationships are strengthened when each of us recognizes the value of the other. We all want to show up and be an encouraging presence for your teen because we recognize how this can impact their high school experience.
For students, feeling connected to the school means believing that their teachers and all adults they encounter during the school day are genuinely interested in their learning, invested in their success, and care about their well-being as individuals. School connectedness and the sense of belonging that students feel within their educational environment will impact them today and for years.
Ensure that your teen is not just attending classes but actively seen as a valued school community member. When students experience a strong sense of school connectedness, they are more likely to be motivated, perform better academically, and have a positive overall school experience. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?
More Great Reading:
College Counselor: This Matters More Than Anything Else
Mistakes Parents Make in College Admissions