How to get the most from your College Counsellor

i-studentglobal spoke to Dr Martin Harris, who amongst his many duties is the College Counsellor at Malvern College in the UK. We asked him how students can make the most of their educational counselling sessions and how to get the best out of the counsellor. Here's what he had to say on the matter. We hope that any students who are currently seeing a College Counsellor, or will be in years to come, will find it as useful and insightful as we did.


College Counselling - It all begins with a chat

7 tips from a College Counsellor

First, your College Counselor is not doing his job for the pay! He is doing it because he enjoys helping you make the most of yourself and getting you into the best next stage of your life. Don't hesitate to ask his advice, because he wants to help!

Second, he knows more about the university application processes than you do! In the event that your situation is different to any that he has seen before, he will know the best places to look to find information. Don't just blunder into your university application alone and cluelessly - let him know what you are doing from the beginning. If you get into a muddle, he can help dig you out, but it's easier to avoid from the beginning.

Third - yes, he is a busy man and does lots of other things. He teaches 25 lessons a week, serves as form tutor to 20+ students, runs several school societies such as MUN and the Debating Society, works as the SAT Co-ordinator, is the IB CAS Co-ordinator, and is the SEN rep for his Dept. As the saying goes, if you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it! He may not reply to an email within ten minutes and may not be available exactly the minute you turn up at his door. However, he WILL answer that email as soon as he can and he will make time for you at a mutually convenient juncture. Try to make sure that you leave plenty of time before deadlines before asking for help. Emailing him at 4:45pm in the holidays to say that you have decided to apply to a previously mentioned university, and the deadline is 5pm - well, it is not impossible, but it's unlikely!

Fourth, trust him. He has seen many students go to many universities. If he explains to you why he thinks that somewhere you have found would be wrong for you, trust him.

Fifth, if your grades slip at a certain point in your academic career, explain the reason to him. He can advise you on how to improve them, or, if there has been a temporary blip in your life that has caused your grades to dip, he can help you explain that in your application.

Sixth, proof-read your letters and essays before sending them to him. Although he will correct your grammatical errors and typos, you want him to be concentrating on the content and tone of your work.

Seventh, and finally, you don't need to give him a Harrod's hamper or a crate of champagne to say, 'thank you for your help', when you get a place at a good university (although he won't complain!). A simple 'thank you' helps to make him feel that all the work he has done has been worthwhile!

Dr. Martin Harris
Head of International University Applications
SAT Co-ordinator
IB CAS Co-ordinator
Sixth Form Tutor
Head of Debating and MUN
Dept. SEN Co-ordinator
Teacher of Classics
[email protected]