It depends. If you have a school counselor who is able to provide adequate time to support your college search and application process, then you may be all set. Unfortunately, many counselors, especially at larger schools, lack the time and resources to provide individualized college counseling. I am fortunate to be able to spend the time needed to get to know my students and their families and work closely with them.
I work with high school students from 9th through 12th grade. There are some decisions early on that freshman and sophomores can consider that may have an impact on future college options and I am happy to meet with these younger students, but the bulk of my work is done with juniors and seniors.
Students and families come to me at different stages of the college search and application process and they have varying needs. I assist families with a full range of services including building a prospective college list, completing applications, brainstorming college essay topics and then encouraging students to get their ideas on paper, standardized test strategizing, resume/activity sheet work, interview preparation, campus visit planning, financial aid and scholarship advice, gap year guidance and decision and wait list advice.
College Counseling packages and hourly options are available. Packages include unlimited phone calls, emails, and texts in addition to priority scheduling for in person and video conference meetings. Hourly options are available for students who want to focus on a specific aspect of the search, application process and/or decision process.
I am available to meet with students during the week after school and in the evenings, and on the weekends. Typically students meet me at my home office in San Mateo, or I meet with them at an agreed location. For students out of the area, we Skype, face time etc. I understand that high school students are busy, so I try to be as flexible as possible.
Finding a counselor who has college admissions experience in addition to high school experience is important. No credential or certificate program can take the place of "walking the walk" in a college admissions office. I have spent much of my career as a college admissions officer reading applications, pouring over essays, evaluating activities and understanding the context of the students' experiences. And for the last 14 years, I have been Director of College Counseling at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, advising students and families on the college process and rejoicing with our alumni as they have landed at colleges and gap year programs all over the globe.