College planning seems so far-off and parents of middle school or junior high students aren’t sure of their place in this process. If you have a student grade six to eight, your early college planning begins now!
Now is the time to lay the foundation for high school (and college admission) success. One step taken now can eliminate ten panicked steps taken during junior or senior year of high school.
As an independent college counselor, I’ve worked with dozens of families who wish they had known what to plan for ahead of time. When a student is beginning his senior year, it is impossible for me to ask him to improve his class rank, grades, classes taken, or activities, all factors that would make college admissions that much easier.
Here are your top five steps to prepare for high school success:
1. Earning top grades and learning.Take this opportunity to build a solid academic foundation and develop skills in reading, problem solving, writing, math, listening, communication, and analysis.
2. Taking challenging courses. All students should be challenged in their academic classes. Struggling students may face the challenge of enrichment courses; embrace this opportunity to get caught up. Some students will be sufficiently challenged with the regular curriculum while others may have the option of advanced classes.
Depending on your school system, high school classes may be offered to seventh or eighth graders. These courses are a great way to challenge top students. Just remember if high school credit is awarded, these classes and grades will appear on the transcript sent to colleges.
3. Experimenting with interests and activities. The focus isn’t resume building; activities allow students the opportunity to expand their talents, interests, and strengths. Elective courses help, but students should get in the habit of participating in extracurricular activities. You aren’t limited to school activities. Consider community organizations, youth group, sports, and volunteer opportunities.
4. Developing study and organizational skills. Students who effectively make the transition from elementary school, learn to prioritize, balance the demands of classes and activities, organize their work, and become responsible for themselves will be ready for the challenges of high school. Kids aren’t perfect and in the process of developing independence they will make mistakes. Better now than in high school.
5. Promoting positive peer groups. Grades 6-8 are socially challenging times. Unfortunately they are also the years when many students begin to associate with “the wrong crowd” out of a desire to belong. Sex and drug use are obvious problems, but watch for peers who don’t value academics because those attitudes can rub off on others.
Colleges focus on student achievements in high school, so grades 6-8 are your dress rehearsal for what’s to come.