My oldest child is in 7th grade. According to some of the schools profiled in a recent New York Times article, he should be engaged in the college search process. I recognize that we talk about colleges more in my house than those of his peers, but more often than not, I try to check my inner ‘tiger mother” and downplay the future.
In some environments, it is important to begin talking with students about college from an early age. If the student group has not been exposed to the benefits of attending college, then early discussions and preparation are key. For my son and his peer group, college attendance has been the assumption since the day they were born. So what should we be telling these students about college preparation?
In my house, we talk about keeping options open. By middle school, students can inadvertently begin to close off some of their future options. Our family college preparation checklist consists of the following:
- Put your best effort forth in school, so that when classes begin to differentiate in level, you can be placed in the most challenging level at which you can be successful.
- When you take a standardized test, take it seriously. It can impact course availability down the line as well.
- Read. Quantity, quality, and variety count.
- Find activities outside of the classroom that you enjoy and pursue them avidly.
- Do something productive with your summer.
For a student whose educational and career goals naturally include college, I hope these guidelines are enough to get us through the beginning of high school.
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