Counselor changes produce generic recommendations

Kassidy Kelley

As college application deadlines quickly approach, seniors throughout the school, myself included, are currently scrambling to get all of their application components lined up.

In my opinion, college admissions are an enigma. Many schools, especially those that are highly selective, get so many qualified applicants that it’s always a toss in the air when it comes to whether or not someone will get in. For this reason, every little thing that can enhance your application counts. While everyone knows the importance of well-written essays, solid test scores, and meaningful extracurricular activities, the impact of one piece of the acceptance puzzle is often overlooked — the recommendations.

With most universities requiring at least one or two teacher recommendations, and nearly all of them requiring a counselor recommendation, I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s currently evaluating the relationships I’ve built with my teachers and counselors since my freshman year.

I’ve had three different counselors throughout the years. Honestly, well into the second semester of my freshman year, I still wasn’t sure of who my counselor was. I still remember that the first time I was sent to the counseling suites, I had to ask several peers before anyone knew where it was.

Part of that may be chalked up to me just being lost and oblivious back then, but I was also never really encouraged to get to know my counselor. However, as I look back, I realize that it doesn’t even matter that I wasn’t thinking about trying to form a relationship with my counselor during my freshman and sophomore year because it wouldn’t have made a difference when my counselor ended up changing twice afterwards anyway.

I’m just now meeting the counselor I currently have, which is unfortunate considering they will write my counselor recommendation. I’m not sure how much someone who has known me for less than a full semester would have to say about me. Yes, we all give our counselors resumes, but those don’t provide any information that’s not already in the application. Although I plan on waiving my right to view my recommendations, I feel as though the counselor recommendation will be a generic regurgitation of already stated information rather than an aid to my college acceptances.

I understand that the first counselor change was more than likely due to pathways being done away with, but even after that, the system was changed to grade-level counselors. Grady has just recently carried out a potential solution to the problem, assigning students to counselors based on their last names. The Grady website states that the purpose of this is to allow counselors to be with a student throughout all four years. It seems that my class was simply out of luck, caught in the middle of all of the counselor confusion.

Although I won’t benefit from it, I truly hope that we continue this current counselor system for as long as possible. I am well aware that most universities do know to typically expect a formulaic counselor recommendation from most public high schools, I can’t help but wish that Grady was an anomaly. As stated before, thousands of very well-qualified students are rejected from great schools every year, so having a detailed and personal counselor recommendation could be that one aspect that separates someone from the rest of the applicants.

I also think that freshmen should be encouraged from the start to try to develop a relationship with their counselors, even in such a large school.

The college admissions enigma may always puzzle me, but I do know that having a good counselor recommendation would surely benefit everyone.