Guidance department steps up, plays key role in helping seniors navigate college process

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Graphic by Marina Engler '21

This year brought an unprecedented obstacle for the guidance department as they had to help navigate seniors through the college process while hybrid learning occurred and the ability to help students in person was no longer allowed.

Marina Engler '21, Staff Writer

As I settle into my role as a second semester senior, I can safely attest that the road to getting to this point in the year was far from smooth. Unlike everyone else who has had to adapt to the new reality of a COVID-19 world, seniors had to navigate it while simultaneously trying to apply to college. 

The guidance department at Staples, one of the biggest aids in helping seniors navigate the entire college process, had a bigger task than prior years. They had to help seniors, who were unable to tour colleges or form meaningful connections, begin to navigate the daunting choice of deciding where we will spend the next four years of our lives. I have to say that the guidance department did a really good job of making sure they helped us through these unprecedented times. However, it certainly was not a perfect process.

[O]ne thing that could have been done to make it more clear would have been to have meetings set up by the counselors (even if it was with every student that the counselor has) in order to clearly show us the next steps to take and how to take them effectively.”

While the guidance department did a wonderful job in providing countless resources that both hybrid and fully remote students could access, there were problems that arose.  Some guidance counselors took a leave of absence before the school year began, leaving many students without a counselor with which there was a previously established relationship. As a result of the hole left in the guidance department, some guidance counselors (mine included) had to take on more students, leaving less time for those that they normally have to worry about. 

One of the biggest challenges that occurred was the availability of my counselor in terms of scheduling meetings. Every student has to meet with their counselor early in the year in order to process the colleges they are applying to into the online system. With so many more students per counselor it made finding a time much more difficult leaving few options. However, one thing that could have been done to make it more clear would have been to have meetings set up by the counselors (even if it was with every student that the counselor has) in order to clearly show us the next steps to take and how to take them effectively. 

Early on in the process, there is a lot of paperwork to get done, and I found it very easy to get lost and not know exactly what my next step should be. I remember piecing together a lot of information from my friends and what they heard we were supposed to do. Since I was not hearing a lot directly from the guidance department, I had to navigate the early stages of the process by myself. 

Of course, if I had any concerns or questions regarding what I was doing, I would set up a meeting with my counselor to settle things, which I have to applaud the guidance counselors for always putting up with my thousands of emails and questions; however, at times it feels as if I had to seek out information that should’ve been made more clear from the beginning, such as information as to what forms were due and how to do them. Granted the information was all in a google doc for us to access, but I didn’t even know that the google doc existed.  

As someone with an older sibling who committed to play a sport in college, I was never really sure what the standard college process should look like. Looking back at the experience as a whole, especially since I recently committed to the school I will be attending next year. Now that the hardest part is over, seniors can finally relax and celebrate the success of ourselves and others, regardless of what their next steps are after graduating Staples.