Make yourself invaluable to high school counselors

June 29, 2020
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Communication
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teacher helps a student who is working on a computer
Relationships with high school counselors can be a foundational cornerstone of your recruitment strategy — and that relationship will be more important than ever come this uncertain fall.
“Many school counselors rely on us to educate them, their students and families about the admission process, as well as about our individual schools,” said Shannon Gundy, Executive Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Maryland (UMD). “Our job is to inform these audiences about updates and changes in the process, help them understand how to navigate these changes and to help them distinguish among our respective colleges and universities. When we do that well, we help school counselors in their jobs.
Recognize high school counselors’ broader role — and respect their time. They have many responsibilities in addition to helping students navigate the admission process, and those widening expectations will be even more intense this fall.
“School counselors are often able to spend very little time in college admissions,” Gundy said. “The expectations of their roles are broad and they often can’t drop what they’re doing when an Admission Counselor comes to visit. We understand that this isn’t a case of them not wanting to interact. It’s important for college representatives to be prepared to drop off information and not necessarily get the facetime you want.”
Don’t expect them to come to you. Find ways to deliver information to them without taking significant time away from the myriad other tasks they have to do. 
“Building partnerships is critical. If the admissions representative is able to identify a problem the counselor is facing that relates to the admission process, and they can create and deliver a solution, that goes far to build that relationship. I tell admission counselors that these situations distinguish your school as a place focused on problem-solving and partnership, not one that wants to just ‘grab students and run,’” Gundy said. “The flow of information from college to high school and back is critically important, and we need to find ways — especially now — for us to do the work together and not add additional work for those in the high school.”
For example, UMD has developed a website where counselors can log in and check admission decisions, outcomes, and related information at their convenience, rather than trying to get someone on the phone during business hours. 
They also work to try to find creative ways to make connections. Along with dropping off information about Maryland, they’ll deliver donuts to high school counselors a few times a year — just to show appreciation for the hard work they do.

“We need to remember that the high school personnel that we’re working with are very hard working professionals. They are human beings doing a very tough job. We need to show that we respect them,” Gundy said. “In turn they will respect us and ultimately they may be more willing to share information, or take the time to interact with us because the relationship has been built.” 

Learn more. Gundy is one of the faculty for the upcoming Admissions Counselor/Recruiter 101 online course. ACR 101 complements campus-based training for new admissions counselors and recruiters. 

In addition to covering how to build relationships with high school guidance counselors, the course addresses topics including:
  • How to sell your institution in 30 seconds
  • Fine-tuning presentation skills
  • Developing recruitment initiatives that work
  • Getting the most out of campus visits and road trips
  • Jump-starting admissions professional careers


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