COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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What you can do in middle school to start preparing for college
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/what-you-can-do-in-middle-school-to-start-preparing-for-college-1013

Posted: 2016-12-16

by Maria Carla Chicuen

As colleges throughout the United States implement more rigorous admissions criteria, and competition for the limited spots at selective higher education institutions continues to rise, it is more important than ever to start preparing for college as early as possible. Those who wait until the last years of high school to explore college options and admissions requirements will not have enough time to build a strong academic curriculum and maximize involvement in extracurricular activities.

The middle school period is a great time to get a head start on the preparation for college. Here are some steps to take advantage of during sixth, seventh and eighth grade to become a competitive college applicant.

Build a Strong Academic Curriculum

  • Pick high-school level classes
  • Most middle schools offer advanced courses in mathematics (such as algebra I and geometry), natural sciences (such as earth and space science, and biology) and other subjects. Completing these courses allows students to enhance their weighted grade point average and take more advanced classes once they reach high school.

  • Complete dual-enrollment courses at local universities
  • Many universities allow middle school students to take classes at their local campuses through a program for high-achievers called dual-enrollment. Through this program, students can explore new subjects that may not be available at their schools, and demonstrate their ability to tackle college-level academic material.

  • Explore new academic interests
  • Students should consider community learning centers, or so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as edX and Coursera, to explore subjects unavailable at their schools. Skills in computer programming and foreign languages, for example, are highly valued by selective colleges, and many students can take advantage of independent learning resources to master them.

RELATED: How younger students can build a competitive profile for the Ivy League

Maximize Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

  • Explore and define passions and non-academic interests in areas such as sports, arts or community service through school clubs and local organizations. Start developing leadership by joining a board, conducting fundraising efforts and forming partnerships with other schools or entities with similar missions.
  • Seek to participate in local, state, national and international competitions in areas of interest and aptitude. Some contests provide winners with scholarship funds they can use to pay the costs of college.
  • Identify organizations or projects to which you can provide volunteer services. Opportunities to volunteer are available at many different places, such as local churches or charities, hospitals and nursing homes, orphanages, and public libraries.

Explore college options

  • Ask relatives, family, friends and teachers about their respective college experiences. Try to get a sense of the specific opportunities (degree programs, majors and minors) available in higher education.
  • Conduct research about the kind of education required for the career paths you may be considering.
  • Participate in college immersion programs on campus available to middle school students during the summer and throughout the school year. Note that many of these programs require students to submit an application months in advance of the program dates.
  • Discuss with your family all the opportunities to start saving money to pay the costs of college, including applications for scholarships available to middle school students.

RELATED: 5 simple ways to teach a young child about college

As colleges throughout the United States implement more rigorous admissions criteria, and competition for the limited spots at selective higher education institutions continues to rise, it is more important than ever to start preparing for college as early as possible. Those who wait until the last years of high school to explore college options and admissions requirements will not have enough time to build a strong academic curriculum and maximize involvement in extracurricular activities.

The middle school period is a great time to get a head start on the preparation for college. Here are some steps to take advantage of during sixth, seventh and eighth grade to become a competitive college applicant.

Build a Strong Academic Curriculum

  • Pick high-school level classes
  • Most middle schools offer advanced courses in mathematics (such as algebra I and geometry), natural sciences (such as earth and space science, and biology) and other subjects. Completing these courses allows students to enhance their weighted grade point average and take more advanced classes once they reach high school.

  • Complete dual-enrollment courses at local universities
  • Many universities allow middle school students to take classes at their local campuses through a program for high-achievers called dual-enrollment. Through this program, students can explore new subjects that may not be available at their schools, and demonstrate their ability to tackle college-level academic material.

  • Explore new academic interests
  • Students should consider community learning centers, or so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as edX and Coursera, to explore subjects unavailable at their schools. Skills in computer programming and foreign languages, for example, are highly valued by selective colleges, and many students can take advantage of independent learning resources to master them.

RELATED: How younger students can build a competitive profile for the Ivy League

Maximize Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

  • Explore and define passions and non-academic interests in areas such as sports, arts or community service through school clubs and local organizations. Start developing leadership by joining a board, conducting fundraising efforts and forming partnerships with other schools or entities with similar missions.
  • Seek to participate in local, state, national and international competitions in areas of interest and aptitude. Some contests provide winners with scholarship funds they can use to pay the costs of college.
  • Identify organizations or projects to which you can provide volunteer services. Opportunities to volunteer are available at many different places, such as local churches or charities, hospitals and nursing homes, orphanages, and public libraries.

Explore college options

  • Ask relatives, family, friends and teachers about their respective college experiences. Try to get a sense of the specific opportunities (degree programs, majors and minors) available in higher education.
  • Conduct research about the kind of education required for the career paths you may be considering.
  • Participate in college immersion programs on campus available to middle school students during the summer and throughout the school year. Note that many of these programs require students to submit an application months in advance of the program dates.
  • Discuss with your family all the opportunities to start saving money to pay the costs of college, including applications for scholarships available to middle school students.

RELATED: 5 simple ways to teach a young child about college

 

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