It may not seem like it, but if you’re in middle school, college is not too far away. Once you reach 8th grade it’s time to really start thinking about the courses that you are going to take in high school, your credits, your GPA, your extracurricular activities, and your activities resume.
Colleges are no longer interested in solely admitting smart students. Now, colleges are more interested in admitting well-rounded students who are not only smart, but also show leadership qualities, and will add value to their campus.
If you’d like to get a jump start on your college preparation so that you can be ahead of the pack, follow the tips listed below.
1. Get involved
Get involved in school or community-based activities. Join a club, run for a leadership position, or volunteer at a community service organization. Being involved can help you explore your interests, learn new things, and you could possibly find your new passions. Plus, volunteering in the community is something that is highly valued by college admission representatives, scholarship committees, and future employers.
It shows the committees your character traits and speaks volumes regarding the leadership traits that you can bring to their college campus.
2. Start visiting colleges now
If you live near a college, look for upcoming events on campus that are open to the community or see if the college offers classes to local children and families. You can also plan some fun road trips with your family and go visit colleges that way. If you start visiting colleges in middle school, you will have a better idea of your likes and dislikes in regards to colleges and universities, and perhaps you can narrow down your search earlier than most because you started visiting campuses earlier. This could mean that you could apply for early admission to college the summer after your Junior year in high school, which would put you at an early admission advantage.
3. Challenge yourself
While in middle school, take the most challenging courses that you can handle such as Honors and/or AP level courses. Tackling tough courses could boost your confidence and it can also prepare you for higher-level thinking in high school classes. Honors and AP courses also give you an advantage when applying to college because these courses are weighted heavier when factored into your GPA. Your GPA is your Grade Point Average, which is the average grade from all of your courses that you have taken for high school credit. Colleges look at your GPA, in addition to your standardized test scores, and your Academic Resume when they are deciding who they will admit and who they won’t admit to their university.
4. Create a “four year plan”, when you are in the 8th grade
When you are in the 8th grade, schedule time to meet with your School Counselor so that you can plan the courses that you are going to take while you are in high school. Some school districts call your high school course plan, the “Four Year Plan” because you need to plan all of the courses that you are going to take during your four years of high school. Many college admission requirements state that you must have 4 credits of English, 4 credits of Social Studies, 4 credits of Science, and 4 credits of Math to be admitted, so when making your Four Year Plan double check that you have planned to take these courses accordingly. There are some colleges that only require 3 credits of Math and Science to be admitted, however, it is encouraged that you still take 4 credits of Math and Science because it will better prepare you for the harder Math and Science courses on the college level.
5. Take your foreign language during 8th grade
Many school districts require that students take at least 2 credits of a foreign language in order to graduate from high school. Likewise, numerous colleges also require that students have at least 2 credits of a Foreign Language to be admitted. However, having more than 2 credits of a Foreign Language is seen as a huge plus when applying to college, because various college representatives favor students who have continued their foreign language credits after the required two years. In order to get a head start on earning your foreign language credit, try to start taking your foreign language during your 8th grade year. Check to see if your school district offers a foreign language class that will count towards your high school foreign language credit, and if they offer it your 8th grade year, take it. This will give you an advantage because you would be earning a high school credit while you are in middle school – score!
The tips provided in this article are merely just suggestions. Graduation requirements differ from state to state, and college admission requirements vary as well. Be sure to schedule a meeting with your School Guidance Counselor or Academic Adviser to ensure that you are planning your courses and credits according to your state and potential college choice’s requirements.
By Keisha Howard
Teen Advice Expert