Finding the Right Fit: High School Counselors Visit Campus

The Office of Admissions has made building counselor relationships a top priority.

Counselor Connection
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman hosts an academic highlights session with high school counselors from around the country on Friday morning.
November 11, 2013

By Lauren Ingeno

Forty-six high school guidance counselors from every corner of the United States traveled to George Washington University last week to learn about various aspects of campus life and gain insight into what type of applicant may be a good fit for the university.

“Counselor Connection” is a two-and-a-half-day program that included a student life panel, a conversation on the admission process, a faculty roundtable on GW academic programs and a tour of the District of Columbia. This year’s attendance was the highest in the event’s history.

The GW Office of Admissions has made building strong counselor relationships a top priority, said Director of Admissions Karen Felton.

“We develop our programming so that counselors have an accurate understanding of the GW experience in its totality,” Ms. Felton said. “We want to make sure the information we provide represents the breadth of experiences for students inside and outside of the classroom.”

Ms. Felton said the admissions staff recognizes that it is impossible for every prospective student to tour the university, but by connecting with counselors, GW is able to extend its outreach.

The goal of the program is not to simply promote the university, said Ms. Felton, but rather to provide a greater understanding of what a student experience at GW might look like, so a counselor, in turn, can pinpoint students who may succeed at this type of institution and relay that information.

“They know their students the best,” Ms. Felton said. “It all gets back to the notion of match and fit, which every college search should be based on. And the more information counselors have about a particular community, the better they can identify students who might be a good match.”

That is why the Office of Admissions has taken steps this year to enhance counselors’ understanding of GW and its offerings.

For instance, a staff member has been charged with the new duty of coordinating counselor outreach, in order to figure out how to strengthen the university’s partnerships with high schools across the country.

And on Saturday, after touring the Mount Vernon Campus, the counselors participated in a focus group where they shared opinions and answered questions from the admissions staff about what information or future programming would be the most helpful for them.

“We really want to know what things are most valuable for them as they’re getting to know an institution,” she said. “What do they need? What can we do to help them help their students?”

Bobby Trevino, a counselor at YES Prep Southeast in Houston, said the mock classes, the tours and the “approachable” admissions staff at “Campus Connection,” made the experience more than worthwhile.

“It’s been really nice to get to know GW on such an intimate level,” he said.

Mr. Trevino’s school is a part of the YES Prep Public Schools system, a network of public, open-enrollment charter schools located throughout greater Houston. The schools serve primarily low-income students and offer them rigorous academic training along with a strong college counseling program to make “attending a place like GW a possibility,” Mr. Trevino said. 

While at the university last week, Mr. Trevino had the chance to spend time with one of his former students who is currently a GW freshman.

“He’s been showing me around the campus. It’s been very neat to see him in action, making decisions for himself,” Mr. Trevino said.

The high school counselor believes a student with a “global perspective” who is open to “a lot of diversity” as well as the “hustle and bustle” of a city lifestyle would be the most likely to succeed at GW.