It is not too early to begin planning for your incoming 8th grader. This is especially true if your student is either first generation for college, or if paying for college is an issue. 8th graders should start looking at where they would want to go to school. Parents should begin taking a look at where they stand financially. Just because there is no money to send your child to college, they can still go! However, this can only be done if the family is prepared.
Preparing for college is not only the parent’s responsibility. The student plays an active role as well. Actually, your student plays the majority role in the college process. The parents can only do so much. The ball is very much in your student’s court. Parent’s cannot take college entrance exams, they cannot make the grades in high school that keeps them competitive, nor can they be the ones to write the essays, perform community service, and take part in extra curricular activities that are all required to be competitive in the college application process. Sure, parents can do their part to encourage their students, but ultimately, the student has to be the one to do all the work.
Some kids already have their dream college(s) picked out. And that is great! In the middle school years, I wouldn’t discourage any school your child may want to attend. I don’t care if it’s the states flagship school, the Ivy leagues, or an HBCU that is extremely difficult to get into. At this age, your child has an excellent chance to compete with everyone else and make themselves shine.
The biggest mistake that can be made is not having resources available for families to be able to plan and take the classes that they should once they get to high school. In urban areas, children that sort of ride the middle, not straight A’s, but not F’s, not wealthy, but not poor, somehow get lost when it comes to providing college prep resources. Speaking with the counselors during this time is great for a head start as to what classes should be taken, PSAT information and much more.
So at this point, sort of make a list, maybe create some files of possible colleges that your student would like to attend. GO to the schools websites and print off what is required and the cost of attendance. Be familiar with the acceptance rates and what is required or admissions.
No matter the family’s background, with the proper planning, college is attainable. It does require hard work for your student, but it can be done.