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Answers to Your College Questions

Why You Should Develop Meaningful Relationships with Your High School Teachers and Counselors

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good relationships with teachers and counselorsFrom freshman through senior year of high school, aside from family members and friends, there is no one with you spend more time with you than your teachers. And while some large state universities don’t require any teacher recommendations as part of the college application process, many colleges ask for at least one, if not two, letters. Therefore, it behooves you to develop good relationships with a number of teachers throughout your four years of high school.

Sometimes called a guidance counselor, a college advisor, or a college counselor, a high school counselor is also a part of your high school team. Their availability is much less predictable, since they are often responsible for anywhere from 250 to over 1,000 students at many public high schools. Even private school counselors are in charge of a considerable number. High school counselors are the go-to person that college admissions representatives contact if they have any questions about a particular student.

Developing a solid relationship with your teachers and your counselor is useful not only because they might be writing college application letters of recommendation for you some day, but also because they are among a small group of people who really understand teenagers and their issues. While this might not be true for all teachers and counselors, their place in your life ranges from passing acquaintance to role model to mentor to good friend during and even after high school. When asked who influenced them most during their lives, many adults will identify a teacher they knew back in their high school days.

The better that you and a teacher and/or counselor know one another, the greater the chance is that the person will give you a glowing report on a recommendation form. This is not only true when you are in high school, but even after you go off to college or into your first job.


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Teachers and counselors look for students to do the following:

  • Learn new ideas and concepts, develop skills, reason, and analyze
  • Overcome academic and personal challenges
  • Interact, contribute, and work with fellow students
  • Write and also express themselves orally
  • Go beyond what is expected in contributing to their class and extracurricular activities
  • Grow over the years
  • Be unique and/or better than other students in their class

Both teachers and counselors are impressed with students who take the lead in introducing themselves, and are especially impressed when students are polite and respectful of school officials and other students. They notice when students speak up in discussions, but are careful not to “hog” the classroom and other student forums. Perhaps more than anything, teachers and counselors appreciate when students complete homework and papers on time and are not reluctant to ask questions if there is any confusion about assignments.

While completing application school reports is a part of a counselor’s job, writing letters of recommendation is not something required of most teachers. They usually do it out of the kindness of their hearts. More than anything, teachers and counselors love being appreciated, whether it’s a little or big thing they have done. A genuine thank you is more meaningful than you might imagine.

Your high school counselor and teachers are an important resource for the college admissions process. Use all of your social skills to develop meaningful relationships with them. College admissions representatives, scholarship offices, and even future employers pay a lot of attention to what they say.


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Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz is author of adMISSION POSSIBLE: The “Dare to Be Yourself” Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You, and founder/director of www.admissionpossible.com, a free college admissions information and resources website. An award-winning author, speaker, and professional counselor, Hansen Shaevitz is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultant’s Association (IECA) and a Unigo Expert Network columnist. She is a former member of Stanford University’s Parents’ Board and chair of the Advisory Council for Stanford’s Institute for Women & Gender. She spent twelve years as a trustee for La Jolla Country Day School. Hansen Shaevitz has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University, was Orientation Officer at the East West Center, a member of the Dean of Students staff at Stanford, and directed the College Re-Entry Program at the University of California, San Diego.


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