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Jan 21

Understanding your College Counselor

Many parents are skeptical about the need for a college counselor. Even for students/families who are on top of the bureaucratic elements of applications (registering for tests, getting scores sent, knowing when teacher recommendations are due), there’s little substitute for invaluable insider information and guidance.

As college counselors, we play many roles.

1) We are your strategic partner. 

There are many decisions to make every single week, and college counselors can help with all of them. We help students to think in terms of a consistent narrative, and work to make everything they do fit into one narrative they can utilize on their application and in meeting their goals. This includes things like: 

    • Course Selection: Which courses best fit my interests and can keep me on track for applying to the kinds of colleges I’m interested in? Should I take two APs this year, or three? Which ones do colleges like to see?
    • Early Decision: Where should I apply Early Decision? Does Early Action make more sense for me? 
    • Extracurriculars: How should I spend my upcoming summer? Am I doing too many or too few extracurricular activities? 
    • Test Prep: Should I take the SAT or ACT? What does it mean now that SAT subject tests are canceled? How do I demonstrate my knowledge in specialized subjects?  
    • College List: What are my targets, reaches, and safeties? How many schools should I apply to? What are the requirements for each school? 

2) Logistics

College applications involve a LOT of deadlines, and college counselors can help you stay on track every step of the way. This will include things like: 

    • Did you get your financial liability forms in? 
    • Did you register for the SAT? 
    • Did you send your official scores?
    • If you’re applying to Japanese schools, were your documents received? 
    • Are you signed up for relevant college fairs? 
    • Did you sign up for an interview with an admissions officer?

3) Making every single part of your application stronger. Applications have a number of moving parts, ranging from Academics and Test preparation to Admissions Officer Emails, College Visits, Interviews, English Proficiency, etc. Overall, it’s important to remember that most college admissions counselors look at each student’s application holistically. However, a strong foundation is important to all students.

    • According to the NACAC survey, high school academic success remains the single most important factor in determining college acceptance. In the survey results, 80.9% of college admissions counselors ranked “Grades in all courses” as having considerable importance.
    • Extracurricular activities and your X-factor play an important role in distinguishing yourself among the thousands of applicants that apply to each university is difficult. Ask yourself, which narrative is more memorable? A student who has branded herself asas ‘The Dancing Biologist’ or one who is known as ‘that student who did well in Biology’?
    • Teacher Recommendation Letters are not a simple matter. In order to receive a glowing teacher rec letter, it’s important to cultivate a meaningful relationship with your teacher and provide them with context to support you. We help walk students through developing these relationships and sharing the pieces of their stories that will allow teachers to write fantastic letters. 
    • We have Test Preparation down to a science. Join one of our group classes or sign up for private tutoring to improve your scores. 

4) Thinking bigger picture.

College Counseling is part of a long-term plan. What career do I want? How can I turn my passions and values into a long term academic and professional plan?

    • Pinpointing your ideal major & career with the STRONG Assessment. A lot of our students, even younger students, start with this assessment. Each one of our students sits down with our Director of College Counseling to take the STRONG Assessment and build out a sense of what career paths they would find fulfilling. Our students have seen amazing results that help narrow down what their focus should be in the college application process.

What are my strengths? How can I capitalize on these as I work towards high school graduation and college admissions? This all also depends on the goals of each client! Some examples of student goals include:

1) I want to get into an Ivy League School.
2) I want to get into the best-ranked school possible.
3) I’m fine where I’m at, but I want a college list for schools that are a good fit for me.
4) I really want help developing my extracurriculars, and that’s basically it. I’m on top of my academics.

Meet with Tyler Kusunoki,
Director of Admissions Counseling
,
for a free 1-on-1 Diagnostic session.

Are you interested in understanding how you could benefit from admissions counseling?

5) Putting everything together.

College Counselors help shape your narrative so your extracurriculars complement your coursework. A resume of discrete, random activities and interests is not nearly as strong as one that has a coherent story behind it.  Schools look at leadership, commitment, work ethic — how do all of your pieces fit together?

6) Applying as an international student.

Navigating the international student landscape is difficult. Most universities accept around 8-11% international students and Ivy Leagues accept less than 1% of the international students on average. Meaning, applying as an international student poses its own challenge: extra essays, financial documentation, logistical questions when students have dual citizenship. That’s why it’s important for students to receive guidance based on a thorough knowledge of which schools have consistently high acceptance rates.

7) Mediation between parents and students.

It’s difficult to minimize the stress of the overwhelming college application process. A great College Counselor acts as a liaison between the student & parent to make sure all parties are aligned on overarching goals and the college list. They can help dispel myths and hearsay and provide authoritative advice that will minimize the (sometimes) contentious back and forth that is common between parents and children. 

8) Access to the Tokyo Academics Network.

Tokyo Academics network spans across every continent (except Antarctica). With each member dedicated to helping students reach their full academic potential.

    • Internships and research with professors across the globe and most subjects.
    • Connect with current or former students for inside knowledge.
    • Connections with admissions officers to help ease the process of showing demonstrated interest and getting directly connected with admissions offices.
    • Tokyo Academics tutors offer a network to a broad range of schools and companies. Our network extends across UK schools, Ivy League Universities, Japanese Universities, Boarding schools, etc.

9) Your case manager.

For students who meet with multiple tutors, the college counseling team acts as case managers and ensures a smooth flow of information occurs with regular updates and an extra layer of accountability.

    • VIP client privileges for access to top tutors. We will connect you with the best tutors in Tokyo Academics and with the resources to help you expand your extracurriculars.  
    • Timeline structuring: Our counselors create a plan to ensure students stay on course and meet deadlines.

10) Working with Super Tutors.

Our counselors will not only help you with college planning but can also tutor you in your school subjects. Having one relationship that encompasses all of these services amplifies the effectiveness of the counselor’s mentorship role.