College Counselor Job Description

The primary role of a College Counselor is to assist third- and fourth-year high school students with the preparation of necessary college entrance documentation and ensure that these students are meeting all requirements to enter a college upon graduating from high school. A College Counselor might teach a course covering the basics of college admissions, meet with parents and students to review academic needs for college entrance and assist with filing financial aid and application paperwork.

College counseling typically falls under the responsibilities of a high school counselor, who assist students with other academic and career preparation needs throughout their high school years. The job growth of school counselors between 2014 and 2024 is expected to be 8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though growth will be affected by individual state budgets, an increase in student enrollment at both the high school and college levels will certainly impact the need for College Counselors.


College Counselor Duties and Responsibilities

A College Counselor essentially guides a student through the entire college admissions process, from satisfying college entrance exam requirements to completing a college application. This could include writing recommendation letters, contacting college admissions offices and providing students with detailed information about the specific colleges they are considering. We have reviewed several job listings for College Counselors and have found the following to be among the core duties and responsibilities.

Advise Students about College Entrance Process

Informing students about the college entrance process and ensuring that each student meets the academic and registration requirements at each step of this process are the main focuses of a College Counselor. When should college entrance exams, such as the ACT, be taken? What scores should students achieve on these exams? When should a student begin submitting college applications? How does a student secure needed documents, such as teacher recommendation letters? What classes should students be taking when preparing for a specific career path? These are among the questions a College Counselor will answer for both students and parents.

Assist with Completion of Documents

For students and parents alike, applying to college can be a daunting and even confusing process. A College Counselor is there to help with the completion of required documents, such as college essays and financial aid paperwork. They can also help students gather information about courses taken, grades, grade point average and other pertinent details a college might ask for on an application.

Conduct Meetings and College Visits

To keep updated about college entrance requirements, a College Counselor might visit college campuses and meet with admissions and financial aid representatives. They could arrange for college personnel to visit high school students to talk about college entrance and the college experience and arrange for students to visit local colleges.


College Counselor Skills

Among the skills a College Counselor should possess in order to fill the requirements of this profession include strong oral and written communication, interpersonal and organizational skills. They should be effective advocates of their students. Besides these general skills, many employers might look for potential Career Counselor candidates to possess the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want College Counselors with these core skills. If you want to work as a College Counselor, focus on the following.

  • Coordinating necessary paperwork to help students satisfy college admissions requirements
  • Assessing students’ academic progress to meet requirements of specific colleges and college programs
  • Communicating with college admissions and financial aid departments
  • Developing programs to teach students and parents about the college admissions process
  • Assisting students with finding out about scholarships and other supportive programs

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your College Counselor toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Maintaining working relationships with various colleges and universities
  • Understanding financial aid requirements for students of varying needs
  • Having the ability to work with a diverse student body


College Counselor Resources

It could be helpful to research additional resources as you continue contemplating a career as a College Counselor. Below you will find access to organizations, publications and online resources meant to provide you with more insight into this profession.

On the Web

Best College Fit – While mainly providing information for students seeking to learn about college admissions, this site also offers professional development programs for College Counselors to give them the tools needed to promote college admissions awareness to their students. How to build relationships with colleges, mentoring techniques and the financial aid process are also topics of discussion.

College Counseling Culture – A blog presented by an experienced high school teacher and college admissions officer, with insightful articles about working with students and parents during the college admission process and thoughts about higher education.

International College Counselors Blog – Though geared toward students and parents, College Counselors can find this blog helpful with posts regarding changes in the college admissions processes for specific colleges and universities, application supplements and more.

Industry Groups

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) – Admissions and counseling professionals can connect with fellow counselors, find out about career events and take advantage of live seminars and webinars to build their careers and keep up with trends and changes in the field.

American School Counselor Association (ASCA) – An organization offering live and online resources in areas of professional development and support through conferences, online activities and publications. For all types of school counselors, including College Counselors.

College Counselor Books

The College Admissions Mystique – Written by a College Counselor with nearly 30 years’ experience, this book gives the reader a true sense of what is involved not only in the college admissions process but in the career of a counselor as well.

College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy – A look at one College Counselor’s view on the college admissions process and suggestions for changes to the system.

The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College – Using an account of a real college admissions officer, this book gives an insight into how a college might factor information such as grades and application essays into the admissions decision-making process.


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