College prep is one way that you can help your student prepare for a critical transition period in their life. Even if your child is in middle school, it’s not too early to start planning for the future. Here are a few key things to consider as you prepare your student for college.
1. Explore Interests
While your child may not be ready to start the college search, it’s helpful to offer plenty of opportunities to explore a variety of academic areas. Suggest a drama class to your athlete or take your bookworm hiking. Attend S.T.E.M. fairs and encourage critical thinking at museums. Pay attention to what your children are drawn to and ask them questions to guide their learning. Finding something that they’re passionate about will help motivate them in college and in their adult life.
2. Rigorous Academics
Plan for a challenging academic curriculum, and get support when needed. Let your student’s interests inform which areas to focus on. For example: if your student loves English but is less enthused about math, maybe choose the College Composition course and Honors Calculus, but plan to get a math tutor. When considering admissions applications, colleges often look at both GPA and the individual courses that your student is taking. You want to ensure a good balance of courses that are challenging but achievable. Consider a few summer programs to keep your student’s mind engaged over the summer months.
Community service is an excellent way to give your child perspective on the world. Plus, it’s an activity that the whole family can benefit from; find something you can do together! Volunteering early and often will help your child develop an attitude of service and humility, and it looks good on college applications.
4. Encourage Independence
Sometimes watching your child fail is the hardest part of parenting, but it will help them develop into a strong, independent adult. Create independent learners by providing them with plenty of opportunities to do things for themselves, even if that means they won’t do it quite right the first time. Give your middle schooler the grocery list and let them shop. When he or she forgets the butter, help them troubleshoot the problem and come up with alternative menu options for dinner. Learning how to fail in a safe environment will make them more confident, flexible, and independent once they’re out in the “real world.”
5. Consider College Prep Courses
As senior year gets closer, it is a good idea to prepare for standardized tests with a prep course. There are many to choose from that will cater to a variety of learning styles both online and in a classroom. Find one that fits your family’s needs and enroll your student in his or her sophomore or junior year of high school.
With these things in mind, your student will be well-equipped for whatever lies ahead. Enjoy the journey as you prepare your young person for a fulfilling and successful college experience.