Middle school aged students and college planning is a big question that does not have to involve stress or being a helicopter parent. It should be interpreted as guiding students early to provide them with the tools needed for college and life.

By Wendi Ostroff

Junior high school is a time for children to learn and develop skills while managing the social-emotional changes in their lives, and transitioning into high school. This process can be overwhelming for some and developing the right skills early will help our kids to be successful and happy. College is generally not in the forefront of their thoughts in junior high school, but acquiring the skills now that will help along the way is a valuable exercise.

Here are 5 good reasons why families should prepare for the future by starting the college planning process early:

  1. The student develops strategies that help them with organization and study habits
  2. The student is guided to explore and enrich – both academically and socially
  3. The student begins the college conversation early, as a motivator for success
  4. The student builds confidence, self-advocacy, and independence
  5. The student is more successful academically with the extra support

Having effective study skills in place is a good idea at any time along the way. Hearing suggestions from an adult other than the parent is often helpful too. Finding a college counselor that is also an academic advisor/coach can be a huge benefit and can provide a support system to work with them for years leading up to applying for college. Having a holistic approach to support them will allow them to feel more prepared to start high school and motivated about enrichment and academics, which naturally leads to college.

How about you, the parents? If this is your first child entering secondary school, there are probably many questions you may have as well. What’s the difference between regular classes and AP? How many AP classes should a student take? The questions are endless. Things have changed dramatically in the college process in the past 5-10 years, and it can be daunting to try and navigate it all. The college process is more than just college; it is a learning experience for the student too, to learn about their interests, enrich their lives through activities and how academics and interests can lead them on a career path. By beginning to establish early tools to serve them well in high school and beyond, students will have a solid skill set and balance that will allow them to be successful in life.