Counselors, you play a really important role in encouraging students to go to college. But, we know that you have a number of other responsibilities that often keep you from counseling and advising students about post-secondary in the way you’d like to. Here are some tips and tools to in support of encouraging your students to build their education pathway from middle school through high school and on to college.


  • The College Knowledge Project, housed at the Institutions of Higher Learning, manages the Rise Up MS comprehensive college access website, conducts college planning and preparation workshops for students and parents, and provides professional development opportunities in college/career advising to counselors.
  • Preparing for Success is a path for students to achieve college enrollment.
  • There are a number of college information workshops offered in the state each year, as well as workshops on Federal and State financial aid, ACT practice sessions, High School Days on college campuses, regional and local college fairs.
  • College Goal Sunday is a statewide volunteer program that provides free information and assistance to students and families who are applying for financial aid for post secondary education. The program brings together financial aid professionals from colleges and universities along with other volunteers to help college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • Trio/Upward Bound is a program designed to provide academic, cultural and career opportunities to help students expand their knowledge and develop new ideas as they develop the skills necessary to succeed in college.  They are housed in multiple universities through out the state.  Here is a list of programs you can contact for more information.
  • A great resource is for Economic Education is the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE) whose mission is to increase economic and financial literacy in Mississippi by providing resources and training to public and private K-12 school teachers, while empowering students to create a more prosperous future for themselves and Mississippi.

Course Selection:

  • Academic planning for post-secondary education should begin before the senior year of high school.  Conversations with students and parents about continuing education after high school should start in middle school, or even earlier.
  • Work with middle school students to develop a four -year academic course plan for high school. Schedule a Parent Information Night to review and update the plan annually.
  • Make sure students are aware of and enrolling in the rigorous classes that will help them to be college-ready. Click here to view the Mississippi College Prep Curriculum.
  • Even if your students have completed all the requirements needed for graduation by senior year, urge students to consider advanced placement or dual credit/dual enrollment classes  before they graduate.
  • Work closely with parents to support and reinforce rigorous course choices.
  • Remind students that earning a passing grade in rigorous classes is excellent preparation for taking the ACT test and for college success.

 Standardized Assessment Tests:

  • Encourage your students to take the EXPLORE test in the 8th or 9th grade and to take the PLAN test in the 10th grade. The EXPLORE and PLAN are practice tests for the ACT standardized assessment test.
  • Review the EXPLORE and PLAN score reports with students and parents to ensure students understand their test score, learn how to improve their skills and knowledge and how to prepare more effectively for the ACT test.
  • Make sure students understand that test fee waivers may be available to families with financial need.
  • Encourage students to take the ACT before their senior year.

College Advising:

  • Realize that some students are not encouraged to go to college and may receive very little college planning information. These students need your advice and guidance most of all.
  • Resist the temptation to look at students as either college-bound or not. You may inadvertently discourage a student who may be an exception.
  • Correct the misperception that college costs are much higher than they really are. False beliefs about college costs and financial aid can keep students from even considering post-secondary education.
  • Communicate the importance of higher education clearly. Make sure students understand that a college education is increasingly important for today’s workforce.

College Advising Actions


  •  Create a school-based College Access Team engaged in continual dialogue about ways to communicate the college planning message to students and parents.  In doing so, you establish a college going culture in your school thus college planning and preparation activities becomes the responsibility of the entire school community.
  • Kick-off the school year with a community-wide College Awareness celebration stressing the benefits of lifelong learning, drawing connections between academic classes, good grades and future career success; and sharing of college experiences. Invite the whole community to participate.
  • Make sure that your students know that you are willing to be a college information resource by building a College Corner in your office or school library to showcase college information.  The College Corner could include information on 2-year and 4-year public and private colleges, financial aid, college admissions requirements, and college application processes, ACT and SAT testing schedules and registration forms, information on technical training and careers, and the RiseUpMS college access website.
  • Outline a rigorous four-year academic plan guided for middle and high school students.  Plan should include high school graduation and college entrance requirements.
  • Check in with students to discuss their grades every semester. For students who are not doing well, encourage them to take advantage of school tutoring or other community-based academic support resources.
  • Work with teachers to create assignments requiring students to identify potential careers or majors and connect their ideas to class topics. For example, a math teacher could assign a salary range project or an English teacher could assign students a writing project based on their career interest.  A potential business major might write a business plan.
  • Discuss college at parent meetings. Let parents know that you support the idea of students continuing their education beyond high school. Let them know that you are a willing resource for college planning and preparation. Make a range of college-and-technical-training information available to families throughout the year.


  • Conduct a College Information Night for parents of middle and high school students. Use this as an opportunity to explain the importance of a rigorous curriculum for college readiness and college success to high school graduation and college admissions requirements, types of post-secondary institutions, the cost of college, the types and availability of financial aid.
  • Organize a series of College Knowledge Workshops to discuss the college aspirations of students’ and to construct college path­­­way plans that include specific college goals and objectives.   For help organizing a workshop, click here. Contact us page
  • Encourage students to become involved in extracurricular activities, athletics or volunteer opportunities in their local community.
  • With the College Access Team, develop a process or build a curriculum allowing students to create a college/career portfolio.  The portfolio should be portable and include transcripts, letters of recommendation, records of extracurricular activities, leadership participation, honors and awards, advanced placement classes and exam scores, evidence of duel credit/duel enrollment grades, scholarship research, standardize test scores, and career interest inventories.
  • Organize a College Peer Panel. Invite local college students to visit and talk to students about their college planning and preparation experience.  The panel should be moderated by the school counselor and presented to middle and high school students.
  • Discuss summer plans with students. Remind them of the importance of staying on track academically and participating in extracurricular activities. Suggest participating in summer enrichment programs and/or athletics.
  • With the College Access team, build a curriculum for students to develop a college or career portfolio (this might include transcripts, letters of recommendation, records of extracurricular activities, leadership participation, honors & awards, scholarship information and ACT scores).