When it comes to getting ready for college, most parents start getting a little nervous about what they should be doing for their student and how they can prepare them properly. If you’re a parent with a high school student or even a middle school student, you might have started wondering about college already.
The good news is the earlier you start planning for your child to go to college, the easier it’s going to be on everyone. But even if you’ve put it off a little longer than you planned, you can still help your child prepare and make sure they get into a good school. You just have to start now and take a look at the advice we have below.
We’re going to talk about college admission tips for middle school parents and the best middle school preparation, no matter where they are right now or what their plans might be. After all, getting into college will help them get the career that they want and the future that they deserve.
How to Start Planning for Your Child’s College?
So, what should you be doing to start planning for your child to go to college? You’re going to want to start by talking to them about what they want for their future. Of course, depending on how old your child is, you’ll need to think about how many times they may change their mind before they actually get to time for college.
If you have a younger child, or even a middle school or high school child, it’s possible that they could make a decision about their future and then change their mind and go in a different direction. Making plans for them for college shouldn’t mean setting up anything too firm that can’t be changed because you want them to feel free to explore what’s most important to them when they actually get to college.
Planning should consist of things like looking at different schools, including colleges, universities, and trade schools. It should also include looking at the cost of different options from in-state and out-of-state tuition, room, and board and other aspects of the financial situation. Not only that, but it should include looking at what they want to do with their future, including the type of career that they’re looking to go into.
Remember, the decisions that are made are going to depend on your child. They’re the one who has to live with the choice that they make for the college they choose. You don’t want to be too pushy about what you think is best or when you think they should start making decisions. Instead, start encouraging them to talk about their future and what they want to do when they finish high school in a low-key setting.
The calmer you can keep the discussion about college, the more likely your child is to discuss it with you, even if they think it’s way too early. So make sure you’re keeping the pressure off when you first start these conversations. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll be happier because you can actually have the conversation with them.
When Should You Start Planning?
The truth is, you should start planning for your child to go to college as soon as possible. If you’re planning on paying for it or helping them to pay for it, then you’ll want to start saving early. College is expensive, and depending on where your child decides to go and whether or not they qualify for any scholarships, it could be more costly than you think.
The earlier you start planning, the better chance you’re going to have the finances that you want to have for them. And definitely, the better chance that you’re going to be emotionally ready for what’s to come. Because seeing your child leave home to go to college is definitely not going to be easy for anyone.
Now, emotionally it’s not going to be easy for you to let your child go off to college no matter how prepared you think they are. And no matter how prepared they think they are, it’s going to be hard for them too. But if you start thinking about it early and you start preparing yourself and them for the eventuality, then you’re going to have at least a little bit of a head start.
At the latest, you want to start planning for college at the end of middle school or the beginning of high school. By the time your child gets into high school, their grades already count for college admission. Not only that, but colleges start looking at activities, extracurriculars, course schedules, and more, so you want to start making choices and setting up some of the final decisions before their freshman year if possible.
If you can’t get started earlier, working with your student as soon as possible is the best way to go. Even if you’re getting started at the end of their high school career, it’s going to be better than not preparing at all.
How Can You Help Your Child Make their College Decisions?
So, once your child is old enough to start really looking at colleges, how are you going to help them make the decision? Sure, it’s going to be up to them, and they’re the ones who have to be happy with the conclusion that they make, but they could definitely use some help and advice along the way.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that they know what they want out of college. Are they looking for a specific major? Are they going to take general education courses until they figure out a major? This is going to play a significant role in where they want to go because some schools are going to do better in certain areas than others.
You want to make sure you help your child choose a school that is known for the type of program that they’re going into or at least that they aren’t going to pay a fortune for a program that isn’t at least as good as those they can get elsewhere. Going to an engineering school for a medical degree may not be a good idea, just like going to a medical school for a law degree.
Also, help them to look at the financial situation. If you’re going to be paying for all of their education, let them know what you’re willing to pay and what you can afford. If you’re going to pay for a portion of their schooling, then make sure they know what you’re willing to help with and what you’re going to give them. And if you’re not going to help, they need to know that as well. All of this will help them make the right decision.
If they think they’ve figured out the school they want to go to, or they have it narrowed down, you may want to go through the options and the benefits and drawbacks to those schools. This will help them look at things a little more objectively and make sure that the school they choose is the best one for them. But remember, unless they’re counting on your pay for all of their schooling, the ultimate choice is up to your child.
17 Ways to Help Your Middle School Child Prepare for College
So, once you’ve gone through all the previous steps, what do you need to know to help prepare your child for college? And what if you’re looking to get started early? If you want to make sure that your middle school student is ready for college, then you’re absolutely going to want to look at these tips. We’ll talk about the things that are going to prepare them the best and help them make the right decisions along the way.
Encourage Good Study Habits.
First of all, the study habits that your child starts in middle school are going to impact them throughout their life. You want them to develop positive habits that will make it easier for them to get good grades throughout middle school and high school. That’s going to give them the most options moving forward.
We mentioned grades, but it bears repeating. The better your child’s grades as they work through middle school and then into college, the better the chances that they’ll get into the school they want. Not only that, but they’ll have a better chance of getting scholarships the better they do in classes.
Help Choose the Right Classes.
Pushing yourself while you’re in middle school is a good start for any student and will help them get into better classes when they get into high school. Not to mention those better classes in high school will give them an edge on their college admissions.
Getting involved with volunteer organizations and community service is an excellent thing to do. It looks good on your college application once you get into high school, but you can start early giving back and find organizations that your child is interested in and wants to stay involved with.
Get Them to Save Money.
Encouraging your middle school student to save some of their money for college may seem a little harsh, but it’s definitely going to be a benefit when it comes time to turn in that tuition check, and they don’t have to take out a loan. Even if they only get a little bit of money for holidays or from odd jobs they do for family and neighbors, it’s a benefit.
Encourage Them to Try New Things.
When your child gets into high school, they’re not going to have time to try a whole lot of new activities and hobbies and sports or other extracurriculars. Their grades and their involvement are going to be crucial to getting into college. So, middle school is an excellent time to try out different things and figure out what they like most and want to continue.
Start looking for places to lead right now. In high school, this is another thing that’s going to make your child stand out applying for colleges. So, have them look for opportunities to not just get involved but actually lead the team or organization. It could be in school or outside of school.
Help Them Plan for High School.
Your child doesn’t need to get started planning out their college process step by step and make sure to stick to it from here on, but it’s an excellent time to make a plan for high school. That might include the different classes that they’re going to take, including extracurriculars and core classes.
Take a Step Back.
Your child is getting ready for high school, and after that, they’re going to be getting prepared for college. That means they need to start learning how to take care of themselves and how to make their own good decisions. You can absolutely help them along the way, but also know when to step back and let them take the lead.
Set Them Up with a Support Team.
The support team your student needs is a counselor. The school counselor isn’t just for mental health needs, though your student could benefit from that as well. They’re also there to help with planning out their future and giving advice in case they need it.
Talk it Over.
Talk to your middle school student about college. They may feel like it’s too early, or they might feel like it’s just the right time, but either way, you should be talking with them. Don’t put too much pressure on making firm decisions at this point in time, but do encourage them to look at the options and think about what they might want.
Whatever your child wants to talk about when it comes to college and their future, you want to be there for them. So, let them know that you want to be kept in the loop or that they can come to you with any questions that they might have. This will encourage your child to look into things and to approach you with questions or comments but not feel too much pressure along the way.
Set Good Habits Overall.
Good habits overall don’t mean just study habits. It’s also about habits for eating right, getting exercise, and taking care of themselves. Middle school is only the beginning of the stress that they will experience going into high school and into college. So start good habits early.
Get Them Materials.
Start talking to your child about what they might be interested in and get them the kinds of materials they need for potential school options. This is an excellent time to start looking at different colleges, trade schools, and universities because it’s less intense and less pressured.
Help Them Study for Tests.
In middle school, your child can take some of the practice tests for the high school exams. This is when they might be able to take tests like the PSAT or the LSAT. These are exams that will help them do better on the actual exams later, so encouraging them to prepare now is a good start.
You are the parent, and your child will be looking to you to understand better what’s happening and what they need to do from here on out. So, be supportive of what they want. Encourage them to enjoy these years and definitely encourage them to pursue the things that they want most in the coming years.
Your child may be getting close to high school and, by extension getting close to college, but they’re also still a kid. So, encourage them to have some fun and try out things that they just enjoy. Whether that’s extracurriculars or just hanging out with friends, encourage them to do something enjoyable.
Wrapping Things Up: 17 College Admission Tips for Middle School Parents
When it comes to preparing your child for college, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. You may feel a whole lot of pressure to help them succeed and to make sure that they are on the right path. But the truth is that they’re feeling a lot of pressure too, and it’s your job, as their parent, to help them make the right decisions at the right time. When they’re in middle school is not the time to make firm decisions for the rest of their life. It’s the time to set up some habits that will help them along the way.
Things like trying new things and starting in leadership roles will help your child to step outside of their comfort zone. On the other hand, things like getting good grades and pushing themselves in their classes, as well as good study habits, will help them throughout the rest of their middle school years and beyond. Make sure you’re standing behind them and guiding them in the right direction without pushing them too far, and you’ll be able to help them make a difference in their future plans.