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To Prep or Not to Prep for College in Middle School

Posted by Categories: Education, Higher Education

To Prep or Not to Prep for College in Middle School | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)On October 13, 2016, NSGT presented a webinar entitled Current Trends and Considerations in Selective College Admissions: What Every Family Needs to Know! After attending our pre-college programs in the summer, we want students to have successful beginnings at the college or university that best suits them. Therefore we felt this topic was a good one at this time of year for those families anticipating college entrance in the next few years. The interest is this topic was tremendous. If you weren’t able to attend and also are interested in viewing it, please click here.

The webinar was presented by Dr. Matthew Greene, President of Matthew Greene Educational Consulting. Dr. Greene counsels families on secondary school, college, and graduate school admission, as well as career planning, in Connecticut, New York, nationally, and internationally. He has written and co-written a number of books on educational planning, including how to get into college and pay for college.

As Dr. Greene was unable to answer all the questions asked during the webinar within our time frame, we thought it might be helpful to address some of the remaining ones in a series of blogs. Today’s questions, in this blog written by Dr. Greene, speaks to these middle school questions

Question 1: What advice would you give to 8th grade students? 

Question 2: Does it make sense to start college prep in middle school? If so, what should a kid in middle school be focusing on?  

Is it too early to worry about college in middle school? Yes. Is it too early to begin discussions as a family about long-term educational planning and making the most out of high school? Definitely not.   

Most middle-schoolers, especially those with particular talents or interests, are quite curious about their future – What will they be when they grow up? Where will they go to college? How are they going to get famous? Sometimes their questions and expectations can come across as unrealistic, but they are ready to learn about future choices and middle school is a good time for parents to talk openly with their rising teenagers about what might be some special talents, gifts, interests, or abilities. And, importantly, it can be time to start connecting those with different kinds of academic pathways and, perhaps, career opportunities.  

In terms of college planning, it is important to know that classes and grades in middle school can actually help with ninth grade course placement in high school, which can then build into the rest of a student’s high school career. Clearly, preferences and performance can shift and develop over time, but parents should look into what high school choices they are considering, and which pathways would fit best for their child, which class tracks emerge early for such subject areas as math, science, and foreign language, and which choices might require preparation for standardized admissions tests or other requirements. Finally, talking about a wide range of colleges, and the many choices available to students, can help destress pressure for only top “name” college admissions. At the same time, talking about the importance, first and foremost, of a strong academic program with good grades from ninth through twelfth grades, can help students focus on the most important factor for admission to any selective institution. 

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)


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