There are very few things in life that make high school counselors wish they were still changing schedules, but this is one of them.
“Counseling, how can I help you?”
“Counseling, how can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m calling because my daughter applied to college this morning, and the college doesn’t have her high school transcript. What’s the hold up?”
“I can help you with that. What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Wendy. Wendy Thomas.”
“Thank you. According to our records, Wendy hasn’t applied to any colleges. Has she reported her application to her counselor?”
“Did she tell her counselor she was thinking of applying to college?”
“Not that I’m aware of. But look, I’m telling you now. Why haven’t you sent the transcript?”
Technology has certainly allowed counselors to meet transcript requests with new levels of response time, but there are still some practical limitations to what we can do—especially if the student hasn’t told us they’ve applied to college. If your goal is to limit the number of irate transcript calls you get, try these strategies:
Get ahead of the curve A surprising number of counseling offices are very good at reminding students when *their* part of the application is due, but fewer offices are as up front about when the counseling office sends in the transcript, counselor letter, and other forms-- or the need for students to tell counselors they've applied to college. Now is the time to check your counseling handbook, newsletters, and website to see just what you tell students and parents about the deadlines you have to meet.
Give a brief explanation of the big picture It’s likely parents and students will want to know just why the student has to submit applications by , but you don’t have to send a transcript and counselor letter until . If your office does this, the answer is really pretty simple--- while the student may be filling out 3 or 4 applications, you are sending out hundreds of letters and transcripts, and simply can’t meet every request . That may seem pretty obvious to you, but it probably isn’t all that obvious to them. Make sure you explain this early, and often.
Keep a close eye out for unusual deadlines Explaining all of this ahead of time will really cut down parent and student stress, but it might also raise the anxiety of some parents who think their child is a special case. If they contact you, be sure to do your homework to see if they may be right—some colleges outside the US have earlier deadlines, and a few colleges have special deadlines that are scholarship driven.
If the student is truly an exception, work with the parent to create a turnaround time that’s going to work for everyone. If your research shows that the student really isn’t an exception, you’ll want to explain that “State U has a application deadline for all students, and they don’t start reading any applications before then. As long as we get the transcript in before then—and we’ve done that for every application for the last 15 years—your child’s application will receive full consideration.”
Make sure you tell everyone about this The best way to get a rumor started that “counseling doesn’t know what they’re doing” is for a student to complain about a missing transcript to a teacher or administrator who isn’t familiar with your policy. It’s always wise to send a reminder to them, or discuss this at the first faculty meeting of the year. This also makes it easier for teachers to send their letters with less stress.