How to Prepare for College in Middle School: A Parent's Guide

St. Agnes Academy
Should parents be thinking about how to prepare for college in middle school? Read our suggestions on how to prepare your child for their future.
Families frequently find themselves on either end of the spectrum when strategizing college preparations before high school, especially incoming freshmen who are getting ready to join St. Agnes Academy.

Whether you fall in the "all-in" category or the "it's way too early to talk about college” category, there is no harm in following our suggestions below on how to prepare for college in middle school.

Nine Tips to Prepare for College in Middle School 

Although the following tips will benefit your child's college readiness, they are also simple suggestions for life, in general. Remember that your kids are technically still children who need space to learn and grow!

1. Cultivate Strong Study Habits

Solid study skills are essential for success in high school and beyond. Middle school is the perfect time to establish these habits. Consider working with your child in the following ways:

  • Develop good study habits
  • Find a dedicated study space
  • Set a consistent schedule for homework
  • Develop effective note-taking techniques

Learning to manage time efficiently and stay organized will serve them well as they progress through their education.

2. Explore Interests

Use time in middle school to explore a variety of interests and activities. Please help your child explore clubs and teams or engage in hobbies that intrigue them. Exploring different subjects and pursuits helps young adults discover passions and strengths.

Plus, colleges often look for well-rounded individuals involved in their communities and have various experiences, so starting early can make for a more appealing candidate. Your child's extracurricular activity may very likely carry over into high school

3. Focus on Academics

While it's important to explore interests, academics should remain your child's priority.

  • Establish a strong foundation in math, science, language arts, and social studies.
  • Remember that a solid academic record is crucial in the high school and college admissions process.
  • See if challenging middle school courses are available and a good fit for your child, as this demonstrates their willingness and ability to take on academic rigor.

High schools like St. Agnes look for strong scores in core subjects and overall middle school grades when considering eighth-grade and transfer student applications. 

4. Build Strong Relationships with Teachers

Developing positive relationships with teachers can be highly beneficial for so many reasons. 

Remind your middle schooler to engage in class discussions, ask questions, and seek help when needed. Not only can teachers provide valuable guidance, but they can also write strong letters of recommendation for college applications.

Your child's interactions with their teachers can leave lasting effects on both sides of the teacher-student relationship.

5. Develop Effective Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital for success in college and beyond. Make sure to use middle school as an opportunity for your child to practice public speaking, writing, and communicating with others.

Encourage your child to take on many "grown up" tasks, such as scheduling an appointment, placing an order, and even engaging in conversations over the phone with different family and friends.

6. Research Colleges and Careers

Start exploring colleges and potential career paths early on. While your child does not need to make definitive decisions, having a general idea of their interests can help them tailor their future academic and extracurricular pursuits.

Research different colleges, their programs, and admission requirements to gain insight into what your family might need to discuss with college counselors once your child is in high school. 

7. Develop Time Management Skills

College life requires strong time management skills. Middle school is an excellent time to start honing these skills.

Help your middle school student balance academic responsibilities with extracurricular activities and personal time. Learning to manage time effectively will prevent burnout and ensure they are well-prepared for the demands of higher education.

8. Cultivate a Reading Habit

Reading is a valuable skill that enriches vocabulary, critical thinking abilities, and overall knowledge. Cultivate a reading habit in your child by setting the example of reading at home. 

Allow your child to explore a variety of genres and topics and engage in follow-up dialogue about what everyone is reading. Not only will this habit enhance their academic performance, but it will also make for a more well-rounded individual.

9. Practice Self-Advocacy

Believe it or not, your child will be responsible for advocating for him or herself sooner or later. Whether it's communicating with professors, seeking academic support, or even coordinating a weekend with friends, use the middle school years to practice self-advocacy.

Of course, offer yourself as a resource to which they can ask questions and seek guidance. Learning to communicate their needs assertively will serve your child well throughout their academic journey.

How to Prepare for College in Middle School: It Looks a Lot Like Growing Up

Preparing for college while in middle school might seem early, but it's a strategic move that can significantly impact your child's academic journey.

Remember, your child's journey towards college begins long before they step foot on a university campus – it starts with the choices they make in middle school and into high school with college prep.

Once enrolled in a high school like St. Agnes, ninth-grade students are placed with a Wellness Counselor to walk them (and you) through what the next four years might look like!

Embrace these steps and help your child embark on a path toward a fulfilling and successful college experience. It all starts with learning how to prepare for college in middle school.