Preparing consent and release forms, standardized test scores and recommendation letters, College and career secretary Lauren Rowe is bombarded with paperwork starting Nov. 1. Within the Parkway School District’s academic resources, West is one of two high schools without a college counselor.
Rowe’s role is to process the application paperwork. However, Parkway Central’s college counselor Nana Prange fulfills different duties.
“My role is to support students and families in whatever way they need to navigate the overwhelming journey of college admissions,” Prange said. “Some students need help brainstorming college options, some need help with applications [and] essays, some need help with their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and some simply need reassurance that they are on the right track.”
Prange dedicates time to help students who need specific help–Rowe is simply unable to do so.
“Sometimes I think I am trying to fulfill the college counselor role. There are students who will come in and ask me specific questions, and I have the resources [to help them] sometimes–not the time, though,” Rowe said. “I don’t like to turn people away, but this role is truly designed to be transactional; you give me the sheets, I process them. This role does not offer time for additional help to students, although I would love to be able to provide more. There are definitely times where I feel like students assume I can provide more help than I am able to.”
Senior Ashley Chai currently does not have a college counselor and wishes she had access to one without paying.
“Although we have Mrs. Rowe who can submit all our papers and materials for all our schools, she often is not able to check specific details about each school,” Chai said. “I think that if we had a college counselor, they would be able to get more info from each school specifically and they would also be able to help us find more scholarships to make college more affordable, help with supplementals and even the FAFSA and College Scholarship Service CSS (CSS) profile.”
Unlike Chai, senior Sabrina Bohn has a college counselor outside of school. Bohn finds her college counselor beneficial.
“For me, having a college counselor has definitely made the college process clearer because there are a lot of confusing things and a lot of things that are not specifically said on college websites. [My college counselor] has really helped with that because she has done this so many times before,” Bohn said. “She also helps me meet deadlines and be more sure of myself in this process where you never know if you’re going to get in [to your colleges] or not. You become very insecure in this process and that’s not good. I think having a college counselor helps you be more secure in what you are doing.”
Bohn wishes West, like Central and North, had a college counselor accessible to everyone.
“It is so weird that Central has one and not us because West is seen as academically accomplished and a challenging school,” Bohn said. “The college application process is sometimes the most stressful part of high school, and we should have the support of someone who knows what they are doing for free because we should all have the opportunity to go to college.”