Similarly to college, middle school is a time of transition between life stages, so those few years are a great opportunity for self-discovery, exploration, confidence building and goal setting. For the most part, middle schoolers need not think too much about college, but for students and parents who already have a degree on the list of long-term goals, there are several things that can be done between sixth and eighth grades to prepare for college. Starting early will help your child to set goals and focus on achieving them, without all of the pressure and stress that many late high-schoolers experience. Below are some tips to help college-bound middle schoolers get the most out of their pre-high-school days.
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Explore interests. Talk to your kids about their hobbies and ask them what they are interested in. Find ways to help them explore those interests both in and out of school. If they don't protest, share your own hobbies with them. Don't push it if they're not fans, just move onto something else they like. And remember, it's okay for their interests to be all over the place right now. This should be a time of discovery.
Check for events. Regularly check for community events geared toward families and children that will help engage your pre-teen in the world outside of school and home. Not only will these events help him connect with people and programs that have similar interests, but it will help plant the seed that there's a big wide world out there that he is welcome to be a part of. Public libraries, universities, community colleges and even your child's school are great places to check for fun events.
Encourage Extracurriculars. Once, you figure out what your child likes, encourage her to get involved. From sports to gardening, there is an activity for everyone. Depending on where you live, school budgets, etc., you may have to look outside of school, but it will be well worth it for your child to be able to build a skill set. And don't forget about community service opportunities! Colleges want well-rounded students, and it's never too early to get your kiddo involved. Just be sure not to overdo it or force anything.
Get into reading. Students who read for fun, read more, and students you read more do better on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, which are heavily weighed for acceptance to most universities. Reading improves vocabularly, language and comprehension skills, and introduces new ideas about the world we live in. Make reading fun now and your kids will thank you later.
Build good habits. In addition to reading for fun, you should help your child learn good time-management and study habits now, so they are not floundering to keep up with a more difficult course load once they reach high school. If the rhythm is already set by freshman year, your child will be able to focus on choosing the right courses and activities, researching and applying for colleges, and make all the preparations necessary for attendance.
Address weaknesses. If your child is currently struggling with a particular subject, be it algebra or English, now is the time to get some help. Colleges don't look at middle school grades, so if the issues are worked out now, no one in admissions will be the wiser. A tutor can help your child understand concepts much more easily and help build his confidence as he becomes more comfortable working within his area of weakness.
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Is your middle schooler thinking about college yet?