Opinion: College counselors, worth it or not?


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Sophia Oppenheim discusses why she thinks a college counselor is unnecessary during the college process.

Sophia Oppenheim

Applying to college is the one of the most daunting processes I have ever experienced. Everyone knows that this process is long, nerve-wracking and extensive, but, in the end, truly rewarding. At the beginning of my college application process, I felt completely unprepared and like everyone else knew more than me. But now, I’m committed to a college that I love, all without the aid of a college counselor.

My junior year of high school was academically challenging for me. On top of trying to wrap my head around physics concepts, I was also studying for the SAT. While I was trying to do well in school, I was simultaneously thrown into the college application process at the end of my junior year. I was lucky enough to go on countless college tours with my parents, and I quickly discovered that I preferred city schools.

However, I was completely clueless with how to apply this information to my college searches. I heard my friends who had college counselors talk about how they had schedules of assignments to complete for their counselors. This completely stressed me out because I felt like they knew secrets the rest of us non-counselor students didn’t. I felt completely left out of the loop. I talked to my parents about getting a college counselor, and they were strongly against the idea. I already had an SAT tutor that was expensive enough, and I was not going to force them to pay for a college counselor on top of that. But, I still felt completely behind.

Even so, I pushed on and completed all the things I saw my friends doing and listened to my guidance counselor. I narrowed down my list to eight colleges, wrote supplemental essays and, eventually, applied to college.

With only four days before the deadline, I decided to apply Early Decision (ED) to George Washington (GW) University. I had been debating with myself for weeks over whether it was the best decision to apply to GW Early Decision. I knew I loved it, and I could definitely see myself living in D.C., but I also wasn’t sure I wanted to be that far from home. My parents let me decide what I wanted to do completely on my own, and I didn’t have a college counselor telling me what to do either. Going with my gut, I decided to apply to GW Early Decision, and I was accepted.

I made every single step of the college process on my own. College applications have made me much more confident in myself that I can make hard decisions and do difficult things. Applying on my own has made me more independent and prepared to enter the real world. The independence of college applications has made me more organized and held me accountable for every little thing.

Looking back, all of the anxiety I had about falling behind in college applications was unnecessary, I was fine at the rate I was working at because it worked for me. Some people start writing their college supplementals during their junior year and others start writing their supplements a week before the application deadline. Every student is different. For me, a college counselor was unnecessary, and without one I was able to grow as a person and a student. Yet, many of my friends have had college counselors throughout the process of applying to college. For them, a college counselor has been really helpful in staying organized and knowing exactly what they need to get done without any uncertainty.

With or without a college counselor, the college application process is rigorous and exhausting. If you’re not able to get a college counselor, don’t be afraid of doing the process alone, there are so many resources available to you, like guidance counselors, teachers and parents who are willing to help make sure you get to a college that’s right for you.