Sit down with your student and their counselor soon after classes begin.

Give your teen’s guidance counselor a couple of weeks to work through class scheduling issues with other students and then make an appointment. This applies to both juniors and seniors.

What follows are some guidelines on what to discuss if your teen is a senior. The next post will address the meeting for juniors. In both cases, the parent(s) and student must meet together with the counselor.

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Share your student’s college list Hopefully by now the list is pretty tight. Here’s where you take advantage of the counselor’s experience. This is the person who can tell you how other students from your school have fared when applying to some of these same colleges and where your senior can realistically expect to gain admission.

Ask for suggestions If the college list runs short or long, or lacks any clear preferences, the guidance counselor can help by suggesting additional schools for the list, explaining which to cut and asking questions to determine your teen’s college priorities. Remember, they’ve seen every type of student, and a good counselor will do their best to assist your senior in creating a solid list.

Create an application schedule Let the guidance counselor know when your student plans to submit their applications. This should prevent any issues with missed deadlines later on on the counselor’s part.

When I had this meeting for the first time, it was with my very organized daughter who knew she wanted all of her college apps completed by Thanksgiving. We visited her guidance counselor with a schedule she created of her colleges, their application deadlines and the required materials from her counselor for each one. Like I said, she’s very organized. He was very appreciative and explained that she needed to complete her part of each application at least a week before it was due to allow him time to get all his paperwork submitted by the deadline, too. She also told him which teachers she had emailed for recommendations and when so that he could offer help with following up, if necessary.

Find out if there are any missing pieces Review your teen’s transcript and high school resume with the counselor and decide if there are any glaring omissions that could impact their chance for acceptance. Even at this late date, there might be a way to fill that hole.

In this meeting, take the opportunity to remind your student of the importance of doing well academically senior year, because midterm grades make a difference. If your teen finally focused on academics in the second half of junior year, the guidance counselor can explain that colleges want to see it continue in senior year.

Determine when to take SAT/ACT exams Make time to review your teen’s spring scores in the meeting. The counselor can explain how much if any improvement is needed based on the colleges your student is applying to. Together you can all review the exam dates and determine which ones best fit your child’s fall schedule and college app deadlines. The counselor may also suggest registering for two sessions for a student requiring more dramatic improvement.

The guidance counselor does not replace you I know plenty of parents who dump the bulk of their student’s college application work onto the guidance counselor. You’re the parent and you must help your teen through the process and work with the counselor to give them the best chance at college acceptance.

Remember, your student needs to do the work, researching colleges, creating the high school resume, writing the essay, requesting recommendations and, most importantly, filling out the applications. But together you and the guidance counselor should be supporting your student and reviewing their work to make sure the college app process runs smoothly.

Share your thoughts on meeting with the guidance counselor in the comments section below.