When should students start thinking about college?

When should students start thinking about college? | JLV College Counseling Blog

There are differences in opinion as to when students should start thinking about college. Some families start thinking about college before a baby is born, while other students start thinking about college when they get to high school. When it comes to thinking about college, it is never too early. However, thinking about college does not just mean choosing the colleges you want to attend.

Choosing a college, and even looking at different colleges, can wait until students are in high school. But, there are many things students can do in their younger years that can set them on the right path for college:

  • Do well in classes. Students need to do their homework and study. If they need help, ask for help from teachers, parents, and tutors. When students stay on top of their studies and master the skills, it will be easier to move on to the next step in their academic career. Doing well in elementary school and middle school will allow students to go on to the next grade levels without falling behind.
  • Take challenging classes. Middle school students can take classes that will challenge them academically instead of taking an “easy” class. While most class offerings are the same for students, a few are different. Although colleges probably will not see middle school classes or grades, the classes students take in middle school will lead to the classes they take in high school. College admission officers will see high school classes and they want to see students challenging themselves academically.
    • Math. If students are ready for the challenge, they should aim to take Algebra in middle school if available. Math is sequential and by starting early, students can continue taking advanced math classes throughout high school.
    • Foreign Language. Many colleges require students to take a foreign language in high school. Taking a foreign language in middle school will give them a head start.
  • Read. Get a love of reading early by reading often. As students move through school, they will be required to read more and more. Loving to read will help them move through their reading assignments and understand what they are reading. In addition, studies say there are many benefits to reading including mental stimulation, stress reduction, memory improvement, and improved focus and concentration. All of these benefits can help students with their studies.
  • Find enjoyable extracurricular activities. Starting early with outside activities will help students explore their interests and hone in on their passions. Colleges want to see students who are involved in meaningful activities. By taking the time early to find their passion, younger students will be able to really dive into the activities. In addition, by the time students reach high school, they will be able to start taking on leadership roles in the activities.
  • Search and apply for scholarships. A big misconception that many people have is that scholarships are not available for younger students. However, there are scholarships out there for younger students, even students in elementary school. Check out the scholarships I have found that are for students of all age groups and start applying today. Starting early could make the difference when it comes time to pay for college in the future.
  • Think about future careers. It is never too early to start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. We even ask kindergarten students what they want to be when they grow up. We know the career choices for most students will change as they grow up, and that is okay. Talking about possible careers can help students learn about themselves, what they like, and what they need to do in the future to reach that goal.

Thinking about college is a lot more than just placing colleges on your list. There is a lot of preparation that goes into preparing for college. Preparation can start early by getting on a great academic path. Choosing colleges for your list can wait until high school. For now, the best thing for elementary school and middle school students to do is to do well in their classes and explore their interests and passions. By starting off strong in these areas, students will be more likely to continue down the right path to college.

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6 Comments on “When should students start thinking about college?

  1. These are wonderful guidelines. Parents sometimes worry that beginning to early will cause pressure. I believe the opposite is true. By starting to think about college in middle school, students can begin to build a schema for what college is all about. They can begin to set goals, learn effective study habits, and discover talents and interests. In my educational coaching, I advise students to begin visiting at colleges in 9th grade when time is on their side and there isn’t the pressure to make a decision.

    • Thanks for reading. Yes, visiting colleges during 9th grade is a great idea. Even if students don’t know where they want to attend, visiting local colleges (state school, private college, community college, etc.) can help them get a feel for what different types of colleges feel like.

  2. Striking tips! it is good to look for our favorite college any time and any where because it clarifies how we will live our future.

  3. When should my child start preparing for college? When should I begin applying? These are questions that often Circle the heads college-bound students and those assisting them through the process. I really appreciate the way this article incorporates education as a whole In the eyes of universities as opposed to all of your achievements listed on one page that you prepare in a week’s time. It’s true that preparing for college starts as early as grade school. Your grades, your organization skills, and your attitude towards schooling all contribute to preparing for college. It is not just one year leading up to it that matters.

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