There are plenty of ways to get ready for college when a student is in middle school (or even elementary school). Here are some steps to take:

Build college knowledge

  • Emphasize that college attendance is something you expect and want for your student; bring the topics of college and careers into your everyday conversations.
  • Tour a college campus or attend a campus event to see what it means to attend college; seek out family members or friends who may be in college right now and ask to visit them.

Explore careers and interests

  • Encourage your student to think about what careers that might sound interesting, as well as what your student might be good at. Then match those interests with potential careers.
  • Facilitate different career-related conversations between your student and an adult who works in various fields of interest. Coworkers, neighbors and relatives may be able to help with this.

Help with academic and admissions readiness

  • As soon as it is offered, have your student register for a foreign language class; having exposure to a language other than English is required by many colleges.
  • Set academic goals for each subject area with your student and, at the beginning of each term, identify goals to accomplish.
  • In eighth grade, review your student’s class options for high school. Ask questions of counselors, administrators and teachers to be sure that your student is enrolling in classes that will challenge your student.

Foster social and emotional development

  • Help your student get involved in out-of-school activities, sports and clubs of interest; encourage community involvement and volunteer projects.
  • Make sure school is your student’s first priority, above sports, socializing or other activities.
  • Talk with other parents about how they are preparing their student academically and socially to be successful in high school.

Support good habits

  • Stay involved in your student’s school throughout middle school. Seeing that you believe school matters sends an important message to your student.
  • Monitor study habits and homework completion.
  • Get to know as many of your student’s teachers as possible, especially in core subjects; attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Have your student clean out their backpack and locker once a week.
  • Work with your student to come up with a plan to keep track of homework, and ask questions about when assignments are due or when tests will be given. Make sure your student has the necessary folders, binders, etc. to stay organized.
  • Review your student’s school schedule together. If you have questions, contact the school’s administration and/or teachers.
  • Supply your student with study aids like a dictionary and/or thesaurus. Provide encouragement to look up topics and words related to school assignments online.
  • Make sure your student has a consistent study space, free from distractions like TV or computers.