Many students and parents ask us what they should be doing in middle school to prepare or at least get ready for college admissions. Although it is too young to start working on many logistical aspects of applying to college, there are several steps students and parents can take to boost their chances of success in the process, find what they like to do, and grow into passionate people.
With so much time ahead of us, the key is allowing students to try many different activities across disciplines. At Empowerly, we advise that students experiment with new activities and ideas up to the end of 9th grade. This gives them 2 years to really build their story and grow over time.
Sometimes, students already know the general area they want to pursue. In this case, we will allow students to focus on this area and iterate within the field. We either like students to have a very specific focus or focus on the overlap between two areas.
In addition to trying many activities, another key is reflecting on our experiences. Did we like our peers, the environment, and the work that we were doing? Why or why not? Often, keeping a journal is a practical recommendation we make for students.
Writing can help students focus and formalize their thoughts. Another helpful strategy is to speak about your experience openly with someone you can trust and appreciate. This can be a family member or a counselor, which is often where we come in.
If it is hard to decide which area to focus in, students can try to stick to one particular area for an extended period of time (6-12 months) and then reflect. This gives a student a more in-depth perspective of the extracurricular activity, and often at this point students have a stronger feeling towards the subject.
Starting on this iterative approach in middle school often is important because it gives us time to really try out different areas, focus on a specific one, and build your story in high school when it counts and is evaluated.
Sometimes, parents want to help their students in other ways besides developing and growing an interest. One of the most obvious ways is helping the child decide if they want to go to a private high school or a public high school.
We like to ask parents a few key questions when they are making this decision with their child:
- Does your child perform better in an environment with hand holding?
- How does the private school tuition affect your financial health?
- What opportunities are available for students outside of the classroom in your community?
In the end, private school students are viewed against their peers. These students often have more activities and a more rounded profile due to the nature of their high school. College admissions officers know this and adjust their standards accordingly.
Really, this should be a personal decision by the student and parents. Often, we consult with students to help them decide which type of high school to attend.
For more on college admissions, schedule your free consultation with an enrollment expert today.