Make High School Count - Counselor's guide

Make High School Count

Counselor's guide

Mapping Your Future has partnered with ACT to provide the Make High School Count program for students, parents, and middle school counselors. The program provides information about planning for education after high school - beginning in eighth grade.

The Make High School Count program includes various guides. Some states partner with ACT to provide Make High School Count seminars and/or printed materials. Contact your state's department of education to see if they have additional resources or materials.

Plan your program

Print this entire guide (PDF)

Thinking about designing a program for your 8th grade students and/or parents? Here are some ideas!

The Make High School Count program can be adapted for a small or large audience. A simple program at a middle school might involve one counselor using the overhead slides to present Make High School Count to students and/or parents. Or, a group can work together to develop a full-blown area-wide event that encompasses several school districts. Be realistic. How much time do you have? How much help? What type of resources?

You will need help. You will need ideas. Even the smallest program should have more than one person involved. Draft people who are enthusiastic and who can have fun with the project, if possible. Two or three people can do the initial brainstorming for a large program, and others can be added as you need them.

Where will it be held? In a classroom at your middle school? In a high school auditorium? On a university campus? At a community center? Is there a usage cost? Is there parking? Is it accessible? Is it AVAILABLE?

Evening? Weekend? What else is going on at the same time? An hour is enough for a simple, no-frills information session. If you add additional speakers, break-out sessions, exhibits, etc., you will need several hours.

You need to find the best public speaker available. Will you do it yourself? Will you use a guest speaker? Will you work with others as a team? You might contact a local college admissions representative, financial aid office representative, or state department of higher education staff for a speaker.

This can be a good idea if there is someone who naturally comes to mind. Most attempts to get sports stars, entertainers, politicians, etc., are more trouble than they're worth and often don't pan out. Think locally. Think of someone personable who might exemplify and speak to the value of a good education.

Letters mailed to parents? Flyers sent home with students? Newsletter notices? Posters? Newspaper articles? Radio? Television?

How much will it cost? Is there money in your budget? Can you solicit funds from other sources? Can you write a small grant proposal to some organization? Are there businesses in your area that might find it appealing to have a sponsor's acknowledgment in your program? If necessary, you might consider trying to get sponsorship for:

  • postage,
  • printing,
  • promotional materials,
  • refreshments,
  • door prizes, and
  • transportation.

You might set up a browsing area before or after your program where participants can get further information. Consider including area postsecondary institutions and the state department of higher education? What about the military and Agencies and services related to the topic? Your school district?

Who will present them? Where will they be held? How much time will you allow? Some suggestions for topics:

  • Paying for college (use a local college financial aid person)
  • Choosing a college and the admission process
  • School counselors and the services they provide
  • Use of the Internet in college planning (a live demonstration is best)
  • A panel of college students to discuss what they wished they would have done in 8th grade

And finally, make sure you have some method of evaluating your program so you'll know how to "tweak" it if you decide to do another program in the future.

Good luck!


  • Student Guide: The Student Guide is designed for 8th graders and is centered on a set of simple suggestions:
    • Keep your options open
    • Take the right courses
    • Learn to be a good student
    • Use time outside of school wisely
    • Start thinking about the future
    • If college is a goal, learn about financial aid programs
    • Get help when it's needed
  • Parent Guide: The Parent Guide is designed to help parents who aren't familiar with the college-going process to feel more confident about helping their children use the student guide and prepare for the future. The Parent Guide overviews the student booklet in simple language and lists helpful phone numbers, websites, and free publications that can help students and their parents explore college and career information.
  • The Presentation: A free presentation that highlights the major points contained in the student guide, developed for presentation to students and parents.