Parent College Coach Tip #119: Middle School is the Time to Start College Prep
Entering middle school is a huge transition for students. They go from one classroom to multiple classrooms, lockers, multiple teachers, and more homework. The summer before your student begins middle school is the perfect time to begin preparation for the future. Although it might seem premature to start thinking about college, it’s never too early. Your child needs a strong middle school foundation in order to take the high school courses that colleges expect of a college-bound student.
Here are 10 tips to for parents to jumpstart the middle school transition:
- Broach the subject of college
By no means is it the time to push for Harvard or Yale, or any other specific college. But it is important to discuss goals, interests, and career aspirations. Once you start the discussion, it will make it easier to see how these interests can translate into a college and career plan.
- Amp up your involvement in the school
Once your child has moved past grade school, parents often see this as a time to become less involved. However, this is the time your student needs your encouragement and guidance. He will be making decisions about course selection, struggling with academics, and searching for electives and extracurricular activities that will require your input. Ask the counselor to evaluate your student’s school test scores and identify any areas of weakness that might require extra tutoring. Be involved and be vocal when necessary.
Now that you know the plan, it’s time to pass the information along to your student (have him or her read this article):
It’s time for a serious talk. As a middle school student, you might think that college is far away in the distance and you will think about it when you’re in high school. But nothing could be further from the truth. In middle school you’re on the launching pad–preparing for takeoff. If you are serious about college-and a national survey says 92% of middle schoolers are—there’s no time like the present to get in the college mindset.
With this in mind, ask yourself these 10 questions:
- What are my goals?
How do your interests translate into a college and career plan? Do you have any career aspirations at this point or are you still keeping your options open? Even though you might not know yet, you can begin to formulate a plan to find out. Volunteer or shadow someone with a career that interests you. If you have hobbies, how will that translate into a career goal or college major? While in middle school, set your sights on the future and set some easily attainable goals.
- Am I serious about my grades?
Academic success is a crucial factor in a college application. While colleges don’t look at middle school grades, good grades allow you to sign up for advanced courses in high school. If you aren’t serious in middle school, it’s going to be hard to change that pattern in high school. Commit to excellence in every class. This commitment will pay off when you enter high school and start applying to college.
Check out my guide for parents: Parents College Crash Course