Sallie Mae Shares Top College Planning Tips from School Counselors This National School Counseling Week

Counselors’ Advice and Encouragement Help Students ‘Reach for the Stars’

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 1:23 pm EST



Public Company Information:

"Students who meet the challenges of college with a 9-to-5 mentality seem to be better equipped to manage their college subjects much more efficiently, perform better academically, and earn their degree in a timely fashion."

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The first week of February is National School Counseling Week, and Sallie Mae — the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company — is celebrating by thanking the thousands of school counselors throughout the nation for helping students plan for college. In addition, Sallie Mae is sharing best college planning practices from two counselors who significantly changed lives this past fall after each nominated a student who received $25,000 for college through Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program.

The counselors are Susan Dixon, at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, and Chad Farnes, formerly at Taylorsville High School and now teaching at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. Both counselors shared tips and advice for college-bound students and fellow counselors.

“I encourage students to adopt a 9-to-5 mentality and equate a day at college with a day at work,” said Dixon. “Students who meet the challenges of college with a 9-to-5 mentality seem to be better equipped to manage their college subjects much more efficiently, perform better academically, and earn their degree in a timely fashion.”

She also advises counselors to:

  • Email students college information when it’s pertinent, and host sessions for families on college-readiness issues.
  • Hold workshops on financial aid and sponsor an annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion night.
  • Help students learn how to find and apply for scholarships through resources such as Sallie Mae’s free online scholarship search tool.

“A school counselor’s visibility is crucial to a student's willingness to visit the guidance office for assistance on college matters,” says Dixon. “We certainly meet with students in classroom settings around planning for college, but the personal touch we impart further prompts them to seek us out for our expertise.”

Farnes says counselors can help students plan for college by having conversations early and often. He tries to work with students from the start of high school, so they know college is an option and know what steps they need to take in order to make it possible. Farnes also notes that while high school students can’t submit a FAFSA before their senior year, all students can start learning about the process by completing the online FAFSA forecaster.

“For students worried about paying for college, I would recommend focusing on academic scholarships and the FAFSA,” said Farnes. “In Utah, most academic scholarships are based on a combination of GPA and ACT scores. Knowing this helps students understand what grades and ACT scores they need in order to be awarded money from colleges. And I always remind students to not get discouraged when things get hard. Keep working and find those people who can support and encourage you.”

“‘Helping Students Reach for the Stars’ is the theme of National School Counseling Week this year, and there could not be a more apt description of what school counselors do every day,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “School counselors present possibilities, provide direction, and prepare students for the future, and we salute their tireless efforts.”

Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program is part of the company’s continued commitment to helping students and families reach college. The company has awarded nine $25,000 scholarships to deserving high school students over the past two years. Meet the recipients at The company also recently announced it has added a Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students and expects to announce the winners this spring.

For more information about saving, planning, and paying for college and graduate school, visit

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


Sallie Mae
Ellen J. Roberts, 302-451-0428