College may seem like a lifetime away for most tweens and young teens. However, middle school is not too early to start thinking about their future! Setting a goal of getting into college can give middle school students direction and motivation, as well as help them stay focused on their future. The following are several ways that middle school students can begin prepping for college – without stressing over the specifics.
1. Aim for A’s and B’s. While middle school GPA will not be listed on their eventual applications, the study habits that come with earning good grades will stay with them in high school – and beyond.
2. Take the right classes. Help your child choose classes that can serve as prerequisites for future courses. Try to take pre-algebra in 7th grade and algebra in 8th grade; this allows students to jump into higher level math courses in high school. Likewise, many foreign language classes can be started in middle school before studying further.
3. Encourage their interests. Middle school is a time for exploration and self-discovery. Encourage your child to discover their interests by trying a wide variety of classes, extracurriculars, sports, and volunteer opportunities. These experiences can also serve as valuable tools in helping determine college majors and future career paths.
4. Fit in college visits. If a vacation or trip takes you near a college campus, stop by for an informal visit. Likewise, some universities hold specific visit days and events for middle school students. Walking around campuses or eating lunch at the student center can help students better visualize their future goals – as well as help narrow down the list of potential future colleges.
5. Get realistic about costs. With graduation still several years in the future, parents – and students – have time to get realistic about the costs of a college education. Families can begin saving, add more aggressively to existing accounts, and even begin to investigate potential scholarship opportunities.