There is no question that preparing your child for college while in elementary school is way too early.  But it’s also possible to start too late.  For most students, the application process will begin junior year, but freshman year is when decisions about coursework and extracurricular activities count.   In order to create a sound foundation for success in the college application process, there are a few important considerations for incoming 9th grade students.

  1. Pay attention to course selection  and grades.  9th grade is a time to focus on honing your study skills and choosing courses that will place you on a college track.  Students should meet with their academic advisor early in the 9th grade year to become familiar with graduation requirements and the college preparatory track.  Remember that there are subjects that build upon themselves, such as mathematics and foreign language, and decisions at this time can affect the choices you have in 10th and 11th grades. Overall, it’s best to try a wide variety of classes, focus on what you love, and take courses that are somewhat challenging but manageable.
  2. Participate in extracurricular activities.  The early high school  years are a great time to explore different activities and clubs, and learn what is genuinely of interest.  This is  not about racking up a high number of activities, but rather, sampling widely so that your true passions can be revealed.  Ultimately, colleges are looking for authentic and interested students.

Among the most important points for parents to remember at this early stage in the admission process is that over-scheduling your teen will likely have detrimental effects.  The above considerations are guidelines to keep in mind.  If students are burdened with unnecessary tutoring and too many activities, the stress that results is counterproductive.  If you can find a healthy balance for your child’s schedule, that addresses the above suggestions and equally values rest and recreation, your child is more likely to thrive.  And a happy, healthy child is one that is best suited for success in school, and in life.