There are all sorts of reasons to become a high school counselor: yours had an effect on you, you love discussing possibilities for the future or you want to make a difference.

But almost everyone comes to the profession with the desire to do one thing — to help students fulfill their potential. However, with large caseloads, back-to-back meetings and mounds of paperwork, it can be tough to remember that day in and day out.

It doesn’t take a grand gesture to feel valued — a thank you note, quick email or a simple verbal acknowledgment can make your day. More so, a smiling student who just got into college or a meaningful connection during a one-on-one can make all the difference. In honor of National School Counseling Week, here’s what makes six fellow counselors feel appreciated in ways big and small.

When Students Get Into Their First-Choice College

There is nothing more satisfying than when a student comes back with that joyous smile and says, ‘I got in!’”

—Jeri Ann Bellan, school counselor, Covington, Louisiana

When the Thank You Comes

I always love a thoughtful thank you from my students. Whether it be in person, a nice note left on my desk or even an email, they often make what I call my ‘smile file.’ I’ve also never turned down a hot cup of coffee.”

—Jeff Ream, high school counselor and founder of The Counseling Geek, Tahoe City, California

When a Student Refers a Friend

A student coming to me in a time of need and noting that their best friend suggested that they come talk to me about their problem because I could help tells me that I am appreciated.”

—Leslie Goines, school counselor, Metropolis, Illinois

When a Student Acknowledges You

There have been times when students have been extremely appreciative and given me cards or gifts, but I feel happy simply with genuine thank yous and an acknowledgment of my support. School counselors naturally want to help students be successful and overcome barriers, but when a student sees my effort and thanks me for caring, that is all the acknowledgment I need.”

—Brandi Cooper, high school counselor, Granville, Ohio

When the Connection Is Made

“When I talk to seniors, I ask them how they chose which colleges to apply to, and we start up a great conversation. I find that each student has a wonderful story if you just take the time to listen.”

—Candace Storgaard, postgraduate specialist, Aurora, Colorado

When You’re Shouted Out in a Big Way

“Last year, a student whom I worked with very closely on many academic and nonacademic issues gave me a very heartfelt shout-out during her valedictorian speech at graduation. I had no idea she was going to do that, and it was the best summer send-off ever.”

—David Musielak, school counselor, Buffalo, New York