Nov 14, 2023 - Partners

College Q&A: Five questions high school seniors should be asking, according to a local college counselor

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Produced in Partnership with Charlotte Country Day School.

Advice about college is more accessible than ever, which can be a double-edged sword.

The challenge: Students and families want to make an informed decision, but there’s a lot of noise to filter through.

The solution: College counselors specialize in cutting through that noise and helping students focus on schools and programs that make sense for them. 

We got the expert perspective from Meredith High, Associate Director of College Counseling at Charlotte Country Day School, including her top resources and the questions every prospective college student should be asking.

What should high school seniors be asking their college counselors? 

College is a uniquely personal decision, but asking the right questions with the support of a counselor can help families think it through.

Here are my top five:

  1. Am I applying to an appropriate range of schools? Students’ lists should be balanced with schools they’re likely to be accepted at and a few “reach” schools. College counselors can help identify good matches based on acceptance data.
  2. Would I actually go to every school on my list? If the answer is no, then I wouldn’t advise students to spend the time and the energy applying.
  3. Am I creating a manageable application workload? Time and energy are limited resources, and many applications require supplements like personal statements and essays. College counselors can help students assess how many words, pages and hours these applications will require and whether that’s reasonable. 
  4. Who gets a voice during this process? Applying for college can feel vulnerable, so I encourage students and their families to come together early on and figure out a strategy for working together and staying grounded.
  5. Are the schools I am looking at a financial fit for my family? Have conversations about finances as early as possible. Ability and willingness to pay for college are not always the same thing, and I think it’s healthy and helpful for parents to be transparent with their students. 

Any tips for incoming college freshmen?

Go to office hours and get to know your professors. They may become mentors and helpful resources for figuring out what path you want to take. 

Why it’s important: I think high school seniors feel a lot of pressure to know exactly what they want to major in and what they want their professional path to be. Professors have expertise and connections that can help you explore as you make that decision. 

Plus, plus, plus: Another tip I’d add is to give yourself grace as you navigate the transition. It’s a huge lifestyle change with lots of unknowns, and there may be moments where it feels uncomfortable or hard. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

What college resources are available to Country Day students? 

I’m on a team of four people who are fully dedicated to college counseling. Our size allows us the bandwidth to stay up-to-date on trends and provide our families with really good resources. It also allows us to be very accessible to students, who can pop into the office with questions any time.

We each bring expertise with our backgrounds, and we maintain strong relationships with a robust network of college admission colleagues.

  • Over 100 colleges visit Country Day every fall. 

Robust college prep programming is another huge perk. We offer a college bootcamp in August before students’ senior year to kick off the process. 

  • We also do financial aid sessions, mock admissions experiences, focused programs for athletics and arts, and coffee Q&A sessions with our parents. 

Finally, we provide our families with a resource called Scoir.

  • How it works: It’s a database that allows students to research colleges while we keep track of their progress. 

Learn more about Country Day’s College Counseling program that helped 100% of seniors get admitted to college last year.

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