When you ask most 6th, 7th and 8th grade students about their college plans, you will quickly realize that college is the furthest thing from their minds. Middle school students are much more interested in their most recent social media post, the latest video game, their favorite sports team, and hanging out with their friends. And parents, that’s truly okay. Adolescence is a time to explore, learn and have fun. So, don’t stress too much about their lack of interest in building a college list or starting that essay for the college application.
But college is also something that they think about for their future. According to the ACT Policy Report on College Readiness Begins in Middle School, by 8th grade, over 80% of students indicate that they will earn at least a college degree. Students in the U.S. are shown to have higher educational aspirations than ever before and these statistics are across ethnic and racial lines. With this in mind, parents can do a lot to help prepare their students for college, starting at a young age. The first thing to do? Help them to create a college-going mindset. Here’s how.
Start College Conversations Early. Do not wait until your student is in high school to share your thoughts on the importance of a college education. When you share early and often, you become comfortable saying: “We expect you to go to college.” By saying this, you set the expectation and create a college-going mindset. You should also express your confidence in them by telling them that they can achieve and be successful in whatever they work to become. Never tell your student “college isn’t for everyone.” Leave the door open for them to grow and discover where their path will lead them.
Create a College Prep Team. Identify people in your family, friend groups, and school community who are committed to seeing your child reach their goal of a college education. This small but mighty team can provide mentoring, write recommendation letters, and offer advice about the college experience.