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Did your school counselor tell you NOT to apply to a "dream" college?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,714 Senior Member
I got a tearful query from a student today (well, at least it was as "tearful" as an email can be ;) ) claiming that her school counselor had said that he would NOT back her application to her "dream" college.

I don't know if that means that he will staunchly refuse to send in the School Report or if he's really saying that his recommendation will suggest that she's not up to snuff.

Over the years, I have definitely told students that a top-choice college is "way out of reach." But I've never said bluntly, "Do NOT apply." Sometimes I think that the itch has to be scratched, even when the student expects the worst at decision time.

So I'm curious to know if other guidance counselors are insisting, "You can't apply there," to any college on your (or your child's) list.
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on

Replies to: Did your school counselor tell you NOT to apply to a "dream" college?

  • Jets17Jets17 Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    I obviously can't speak about this specific school, but I know that this is a fairly common practice at many public schools around the country. Convincing a student that is perceived to be 'subpar' to not apply along with stronger candidates will make the school look better, as this gives then a higher acceptance rate to 'elite' schools. Counselors who partake in this- and I unfortunately know of far too many- are looking out only for the administration. I certainly hope this girl applies to her dream school! A selfish counselor, if that is indeed his or her motivation, should not stand in her way.

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using CC
  • zobrowardzobroward Registered User Posts: 3,933 Senior Member
    that is a 50/50 on right and wrong.
    but in the end it is not for a college counselor to try and shut down a students future. if the college rejects her that is the end of the story but, if she does not apply that is 100% chance of rejection . the counselor should tell the student of the odds and tell them to prepare for the high probability of rejection but, anything more is crossing the line and like jets17 said a little more nicely it is a bureaucrat looking out for their own numbers!
  • moonchildmoonchild Registered User Posts: 3,296 Senior Member
    Ours didn't say "You couldn't" to any colleges, but what they did seem to want to do is spread the applications of the strongest students around- in other words, discourage everyone from applying to the same few colleges. They were thinking of both the students as well as the school with this strategy, and it is their job, of course, to get kids thinking of alternatives. On the other hand, I don't like it when school counselors try to micro-manage the results of admissions process for their schools.
    I sometimes wonder if the counselor can indirectly sabotoge a student's chances with their counselor report. I never saw evidence of it in my kids' school, but it seems like it might happen if the counselor wasn't ethical. Maybe good private counselors have an important role, after all, in keeping high school counselors honest.
  • moonchildmoonchild Registered User Posts: 3,296 Senior Member
    ...her school counselor had said that he would NOT back her application to her "dream" college.

    The obvious question here is, why?
  • pandamicpandamic Registered User Posts: 408 Junior Member
    My school counselor has way too many students to talk to us about our school choices. This hurts because she can't make a great rec. letter, but at least she doesn't have time to shut down students' dreams (which I don't think is the right thing to do)
  • 4kidsdad4kidsdad Registered User Posts: 4,602 Senior Member
    I think one of factor could be the workload of the counselors. Theu need to do some works on each application. My kids' school counselors request my kids not to apply more than 6 schools - 2 reaches, 2 matches, & 2 safeties.

    Also, they don't want to get the blames when the students got rejected from way-out-of-their-league schools.
  • LaggingLagging Registered User Posts: 1,162 Senior Member
    Assuming you have the money for the application fee/test score sending then there's really no reason not to apply to a "dream" school. Obviously safeties are very important too though!

    My schools GC would go through a college list and based on naviance (if your school has that you can use it to see the normal range of students accepted) give you a % of being accepted to each school. You could do this yourself.
  • texaspgtexaspg Super Moderator Posts: 16,601 Super Moderator
    I did not think public school counselors told students they could not apply to specific schools and only private schools did this kind of controlling.
  • CSIHSISCSIHSIS Registered User Posts: 3,413 Senior Member
    No, my counselor, and entire school, is under the impression that because I have good grades I can get in to any college. When I explain the school's lack of rigor or advanced classes or my few ECs, they don't believe me.
  • Davidabb84Davidabb84 - Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    I was told to expect a rejection from Wake and UNC, but was told to still apply.
  • mommo3mommo3 Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    Yes. My D's public high school counselor "strongly discouraged" her from applying to a certain top university. The counselor felt D's SAT scores were too low, based on scores of previous admitted students from her HS. The counselor said she would not support D's application to this university.

    D was devastated. This university had long been her dream school, so I told her to apply anyway. She had an exceptionally strong application in all areas except her SAT scores, which were very good but not outstanding. It's important to note that D had achieved national recognition for two of her extracurricular activities.

    Not only was D accepted to this university, but she was also accepted EA. A student on the admissions committee later told her she was one of the top EA admits.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    CSIHSIS - Colleges will assess your application within the context of your high school's offerings. They have a complete profile of your school that explains course levels and activities that are available. They want to know to what degree did you take advantage of the most challenging courses available and how well you performed in them. Colleges today are used to getting applications from kids in all types of high schools: private, parochial, big urban, small country, charter schools, home schooled, international etc. They do understand that not all schools have the same set of opportunities to offer students.
  • WoahgoshWoahgosh Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    How does not letting a noncompetitive / unqualified applicant apply to a prestigious school (like Stanford for example) lower the other students' (who are applying and more qualified) chances?
  • mommusicmommusic Registered User Posts: 8,301 Senior Member
    No, but it lowers the high school's acceptance rate. They would rather say "all" their students who applied to X university were accepted, than that 50% were accepted.

    At least that is my understanding.
  • IceejmhIceejmh Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    This happened to me. My counselor told me not to apply to USC and said that community college is a "great alternative route". Obviously, this response is inappropriate in ANY circumstance, but let me still add that I am in the top 2% of 500 students and I have a 3.9 GPA, 2040 SAT. I know my stats aren't AMAZING, but I'm not approaching you for advice on a community college.... My point is, even if I were a failing student, I would be upset if a guidance counselor advised me to ignore my dream.
This discussion has been closed.