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It’s College Reference Time, But My Guidance Counselor Doesn’t Even Know My Name!

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,874 Senior Member
edited August 27 in Ask The Dean Topics
Question: I am a senior at a big public high school and just met with my guidance counselor. He kept calling me “Dan” even though my name is “Ben.” (I corrected him twice and then gave up.) He was new last year and obviously doesn’t know me at all. But he will be writing my college recommendation. So am I screwed?


See https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/my-guidance-counselor-doesnt-even-know-my-name/

Post edited by CCadmin_Stacey on

Replies to: It’s College Reference Time, But My Guidance Counselor Doesn’t Even Know My Name!

  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,308 Senior Member
    I made sure my guidance counselors knew me. I also sent them bullets of everything relevant I'd ever done in high school.

    I assume my recs were good because my scholarship success rate was pretty high.
  • CalGal17CalGal17 Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    My son's counselors sent home a "brag sheet" list. One for my son to fill out and one for a parent to fill out. It basically says, "We have 100+ seniors each this year and we don't know enough about your child to write a recommendation letter. Please help us know your kid!"

    You might print one out from online and either email it to your counselor or hand it to him/her.

    Here is an example:

  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,719 Forum Champion
    Our school does student and parent brag sheets, too. And although my son had not had any previous relationship with his counselor prior to the scheduled let's-talk-about-college meeting all students have, they had a great time together when the counselor asked him a question about something I had written on my brag sheet, and my son shared his enthusiasm with the counselor. They ended up watching a You Tube video together! Although they have had only a couple of meetings so far, I do feel that she has an idea of what is special about my son and will represent him well. I think it also helped that he came into the meeting with a clear vision of what he wants and information about schools he had already visited.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 2,944 Senior Member
    I was lucky in a sense. S17 is dyslexic and had an IEP, so his GC knew him very well because he attended the meetings. It was also clear from day 1 that his GC "got" him. He fought for him to be moved to a different gym class when he and the teacher were a mismatch, backed us up when we took on a history teacher, etc.

    OTOH, my D's GC, same school, had zero clue who she was because she was just a decent, middle of the road, non athlete kid who didn't stand out. For kids like her, our HS has a packet that comes home in second semester of junior year. The kid and parent each fill out an info form and indicate which teachers the child will seek recs from and a couple who they won't so the GC can talk to them as well. A meeting is then scheduled towards the end of the junior year and the GC provides a list of suggested schools. With our son, ACT tutoring got him from a 24 to a 27 composite so his GC actually came up with a totally different second list, which wasn't required.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,884 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Our kids provided brag sheets to the guidance counselor and each of the teachers who were being asked to write letters.

    In addition -- as part of that communication -- they added a couple of lines about each college to which letters were being sent. Those lines spoke to the question of "fit": why this school fit the applicant's educational goals, perhaps a remark about the student's strongest impressions from a visit to the school, perhaps a remark about a legacy aspect (if relevant). I think this "fit" information also helps the teacher understand what the student is looking for and can emphasize. And it helps the letter writer to reinforce what the student herself may have stated in her application.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    My D's school also uses brag sheets (from parent) and a survey form from the student. They said the students are sometimes too shy to put down their achievement on paper while the parents would not. :)
    My D2's counselor in the last 3 years was not good. Unfortunately, it was the same one for D1 too as it is by last name). She always messed up the class schedule. Anyway, she has transferred to another school this semester and my D2 has a new counselor this month that never knows any students in the school previously. Nevertheless, it is not going to make any difference as the previous one was so bad anyway. After all, each counselor need to cover ~100 senior students and the GC recommendations are surely not very personal other than checking a few boxes and copy some information from the brag sheets.
  • MassmommMassmomm Registered User Posts: 3,543 Senior Member
    Yes, students do sometimes have a hard time bragging. My son actually pushed back when the GC told him to toot his own horn more. He said, "This is a Christian school. I thought we were supposed to be learning humility!" ;)
  • College2018HopefulCollege2018Hopeful Registered User Posts: 63 Junior Member
    My problem is not my Son identifying what his accomplishes are it's getting Guidance to write their Ref Letter and send the OFFICIAL Transcripts to the colleges! Guidance presents again and again (verbally and documented) the 'Value of Applying as early as possible', where this was August 1st when Common App & Internal sites opened... then tell Parent that the earliest they will send out required documents is Oct 1-15?
    Of my Son's 8 colleges... 5 have said they would review his App NOW but it is not complete (i.e. missing Transcript and Ref Letters)? Have escalated all the way to the State DOE but they take between 90-180 days to address... which is too later anyway.
    When normally does Guidance send info out for any of you?
  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom Registered User Posts: 1,796 Senior Member
    There are plenty of situations where the guidance counselors don't know the students. My oldest had a brand new guidance counselor at the beginning of her Senior year - as in new graduate, first job out of college. The only reason he knew the school was because he had interned there the previous year, but he didn't know his students. By the time he had to write his letter he knew me and her younger sister (because she was a freshman, and we were trying to set up an IEP) better than he knew her. She was one of the first few he did, because we pushed - and when we and one other student offered brag sheets (from both students and parents) he ended up using the idea for everyone else. Otherwise he would have been lost, as he had about 75 Seniors to deal with.
  • BoilermomBoilermom Registered User Posts: 152 Junior Member
    I have not seen any school so far that has specifically requested a rec letter from the counselor. When my older D applied to college 3 years ago she asked teachers who knew her well to write her rec letters. I would say unless a school absolutely specifies the letter has to come from the counselor, ask someone who knows the student well like a teacher, coach, minister, etc.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,719 Forum Champion
    edited January 13
    @Boilermom - All of the colleges my son considered required a school statement/ report that the guidance counselor completes, in addition to one or two teacher recommendations.

    (Well, one possible exception? SUNY Binghamton’s website says it only required one or the other, but on the Common App, it took both, so both went in.)
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,874 Senior Member
    @Boilermom -Until recently, the "School Report" on the Common App (and on many other applications as well) expected a counselor recommendation. Since it was on the counselor's form, students and parents may not have even known it was there. But some counselors ignored it (or wrote useless generic rubbish) so the Common App decided to take it off of the School Report and provided a separate form instead. Many colleges still require it but many don't. A good article by college counselor/admissions writer Nancy Griesemer explains these changes here: http://school-one.wikispaces.com/file/view/changes+to+the+ComApp+counselor+rec16.docx

    Students and parents can check the Common App "Requirements Grid" to see if colleges on their list have asked the counselor for a reference. Over on the far right side of the grid, you'll see a "Recommendations" heading. A "Y" in the "CR" column means that a counselor rec is required. It does NOT mean "Y do I have to ask my clueless counselor for a reference?" ;-)
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